Meet our StudentsWhat our students say about their yoga practice
Diana sharing her thoughts: Getting older I knew that flexibility was something I needed and never had. A friend suggested coming to try the yoga so I went and I loved it.
The most benefits I gained were definitely flexibility. I am more flexible now than I have been my entire life. Even though I ran track, I swim, I was a cheerleader when I was younger. I have always done sports, I was a competitive body builder in my late teens/early twenties. But I never specifically focused on any type of exercise that was this healing or intensely focused on flexibility. On top of that, the level of intensity of other exercises like lifting weights, swimming or running don’t seem as hard as they used to be. In the gym now I will lift weights and then do a yoga pose like half-moon or standing leg head to knee and stretch in between sets. I have had asthma my entire life and now there a days where I go without using my inhaler. I almost never need the Ventolin anymore. I still take one type medication daily (Theophylline) but another inhaler that is steroid based that I am supposed to use every day, I rarely use that. The yoga definitely has helped with the asthma, especially learning to breathe deeper and breathing properly.
However, the toughest challenge was flexibility. I used to have to see a chiropractor after every semester. I sit and grade for a long period of time and my neck muscles would tighten down completely and I would get intense headaches. I would go for at least three to four sessions of chiropractic adjustment each time. Now I have only been twice in two years. Now when I have an intense grading period, even if only make it to the yoga studio two or three times a week, this doesn’t happen anymore. And it’s rabbit pose that stretches the exact area and so actually last year I have not been to the chiropractor at all in my second year of yoga. My most favorite is Rabbit pose, my least favorite is standing leg head to knee.
All I can tell new students is to just keep at it. Even if you think you are not taking anything away from it, don’t beat yourself up about it. I used to do that a lot. It took a long time for me to learn to relax and then push it. Getting mad at yourself after class thinking you could have done better does you no good. The teachers say things like push your feet into the ground and connect with the ground, pay attention to your feet. I literally just last month felt my feet. I could never do it before, feeling small movements, connecting with the feet. Finally after two years I am just learning to make that connection. In doing other exercise, I never think or connect with specific body parts. Don’t judge yourself, give yourself time to learn!
I have been an athlete my whole life and this is the best exercise I have ever done! At some point in your life you have to find an exercise that you can do for the rest of your life. There are two things known as you age, fighting off disease is keeping your body moving and keeping your mind active. There are lots of ways to keep your mind active. But the yoga does both [simultaneously]. You can feel it [exercise] and you have to concentrate [mind], thinking about what your body is doing. You learn new things about your body.
I found Bikram Yoga after the birth of my son in June of 2001. I was looking for a way to get my body back to pre-pregnancy weight. In less than a month, I was lighter than I was before my pregnancy.
What have been your greatest benefits from your Bikram Yoga practice? Joy! That is what I remember most about the beginning. I would start class looking in the mirror at all the things I didn’t like about my body, thinking about all the things I didn’t like about myself. After class I could smile at who I saw in the mirror and I would leave with this overwhelming happiness! Yoga keeps me strong in spirit and helps me to maintain serenity. Of course there have been physical benefits. My weight has been stable, and my arms have more definition than they’ve ever had before.
What has been your toughest challenge? Loving my body and accepting where I am each day.
What is your favorite posture/least favorite? My favorite posture is Standing Bow. I think it’s beautiful, and I feel powerful focus when I practice it. My least favorite pose changes from time to time. Right now I am meeting resistance in separate leg, head to floor pose. The concept of putting my weight in my toes and locking my knees seems to escape me. My two hips feel totally different about the posture. My left hip and hamstring are screaming, and my right hip just gives in to the complaint of the left. My arms feel awkward and become exhausted trying to balance the opposing forces.
Any encouraging words to new students? Breathe!! It’s all about the breath. If you can breathe easy, your body will open and allow the posture to happen. When you feel the breathing become difficult, allow yourself to back off. Backing off doesn’t mean that you’re failing. It means that you are allowing your body and mind to communicate (YOGA). When you feel resistance in a posture, tell that part of your body that you accept and love it, send your breath into the resistance and allow your mind release it. You will be amazed!
Yoga seems to be a metaphor for life. We go through cycles as we grow (26 postures done twice). Each day is different (some days are strong, some days limber). Some days are a challenge and some days are easy (resistance vs. breath).
I have always been interested in exercising and had attended “regular” yoga classes in air conditioned rooms. I also enjoy the dry heat in saunas. An open house promotion at the studio got me and my wife started in Bikram Yoga.
My lower back had been a chronic problem for the past few years. I missed days of work when I would wake up in such pain, I could barely get out of bed. Bikram Yoga has replaced monthly visits to the Chiropractor for spine adjustments. Now, I do my own physical therapy on my spine, several times a week. While my back is still an issue, it has improved greatly and I can now manage it myself. Yoga is fixing my body from the inside out!
What has been your toughest challenge? Adjusting to the large amount of water I have to drink to stay hydrated before, and especially AFTER, each practice session. I also have a surgically reconstructed ligament on my knee which limits my range of motion. It may take years before I can sit on my knees and get low enough for a proper Fixed Firm pose, but I look forward to that day.
What is your favorite posture/least favorite? Favorite posture: Standing Bow. It takes a lot of concentration, strength and especially balance (on one foot) to get into and stay in it It also looks very impressive when done right. Least favorite: Camel. It is scary to bend back. However, it gets a bit easier every day.
Any encouraging words to new students? Bikram Yoga is a full body workout that builds strength, flexibility and endurance all at once. It also makes you feel awesome… after class. The heat can be tough to take at first, but it is necessary to make your muscles & tendons more pliable and able to stretch safely and avoid injury. The heat also speeds up your metabolism, allowing your body to get rid of toxins and lose weight. Stick with it! The poses you least like, are the ones your body needs the most. Lock the knee! Come back tomorrow.
I feel like I need to practice every day. I look at Yoga as preventive maintenance for the body. It keeps my hips, spine and neck flexible and in proper alignment, every day. You brush your teeth every day, don’t you
I started five years ago and I keep falling out of it and getting back into it but this time I am back forever! What brought you to Bikram Yoga? I saw Madonna! And how many muscles she had and how good she looked and then she said that she doesn’t work out and all she does is Bikram Yoga. That was good enough for me. What have been your greatest benefits from your Bikram Yoga practice? My stomach! My medications cost me $250 a month. I stopped taking them two weeks ago and my stomach is fine. I am feeling better than I ever have. My mind is more clear and my skin glows. I think differently know. Now, before I put food in my mouth I think oh wait a minute, I shouldn’t be eating that. I work so hard to straighten my body out and by putting garbage food in my mouth it just sets me back. I don’t want to go back I want to go forward. My sex life is better (chuckle). I am a hairdresser and I stand on my feet all day long and without the hot yoga I would have to stop doing hair. When I got married 11 years ago I was a size 3. Now I am a size 14 (gone down from size 16) and I would like to go down to a size 6. That is my goal now. I could go on and on and if anybody would like to talk to me you can find me at the studio. What has been your toughest challenge? Some of the postures are more difficult for me than others, I have some herniated discs but the heat doesn’t bother me, getting here doesn’t bother me, well anymore lol. It used to be a challenge thinking about the heat, expecting the heat but know it just doesn’t bother me anymore. What is your favorite posture/least favorite? Triangle, Standing Balancing Stick and Cobra Pose are my favorite. Rabbit pose definitely is not and Standing Leg Head to Knee neither! Don’t give up. It’s a challenge and it’s not easy. But it becomes easier and when you come to the classes it doesn’t seem that long. It’s like oh.. we are done already? 90 minutes and it went by really fast. People always say 90 minutes oh my god but it’s not really like that. Because you are changing from posture to posture its not boring. It’s not repetition it’s not like 90 minutes on a treadmill. Every day is different, it’s not boring and it depends on how much you want to challenge yourself.
What brought you to Bikram Yoga? Swollen ankles, high blood pressure, bad cholesterol, a bad attitude, being overweight, just not happy in life.
What have been your greatest benefits from your Bikram Yoga practice? Learned to love myself
What has been your toughest challenge? Making at least four classes per week
What is your favorite posture/least favorite? Favorite “Awkward Pose-Utkatasana” Least Favorite “Toe Stand-Padangustasana”
Any encouraging words to new students? Stay at it, listen to your teachers, learn to breathe, build the awareness (repeat a mantra or three syllable prayer or just keep repeating “I breathe in, I breathe out and honor your breath. Do not give in to the pain or the heat it will destroy your practice, remember you are in charge of your mind and thoughts. The power of the Yoga is in the breath, being aware of the benefits and ultimately make it a meditative practice.
How long have you been practicing Bikram Yoga? About 10 years
What brought you to Bikram Yoga? I was at Parrish Fitness Center and Donna T had a yoga class I attended. She went to Bikram Yoga Training, came back to Titusville and set up her own Bikram Yoga Studio and I followed her there. It is one of the best things I’ve ever done.
Yoga has given me the ability to be flexible, feel good, and to physically do things that many off my peers only dream of doing. For me, it has been life changing and it is a life long pursuit. It’s a challenge I intend to pursue for the rest of my life.
Speaking of challenges, as one gets older which I’m only too happy to continue to do, the challenge is to keep coming back when I don’t feel like coming back. Inevitably, I’ve slowed down and I don’t have the stamina to do the things I could do only a few years back. I’ve also begun to concentrate on having good form, doing the poses right. I’m finding that helps me to stay focused. I don’t intend to let anything keep me from practicing yoga.
What is your favorite posture/least favorite? My favorite posture is probably, standing head to knee, next is triangle pose. Least favorite is rabbit pose. I just can’t get me head to touch me knees. Maybe one day.
Any encouraging words to new students? Just keep coming back. At first the heat seems overwhelming, but I can say from experience one acclimates to it and eventually you’ll welcome it. Also I would say don’t be afraid to just do what you can do. Don’t let it matter what everyone else is doing, just concentrate on yourself. We’ve all been beginners. This is beginning yoga and just strive to do the best you can.
I’ve also found there is a bond between us yogis. We do things others don’t do. I’ve made very dear friends through yoga and met the nicest people there. We all care about each other.