“I must have been a lizard in another life,” Alexia speculates by way of explaining how she could possible like Bikram yoga because of, not in spite of, the heat.
“I did my first Bikram yoga class just over a year and a half ago. I had heard about Bikram yoga while I was in university. A few of my friends would go and they would always talk about how hot and challenging it was. The moment I heard about it, I knew I wanted to try it; however, I think I was nervous, afraid, or too self-conscious to try it at that time. Finally, about six years later, someone bought me a Groupon to try it for 10 classes.”
Before settling on her current position at Blanche Macdonald Centre (a school for fashion, makeup, and hair in Vancouver), Alexia spent three years living in Paris, after graduating from studying French literature at the University of Victoria, broadcast journalism at BCIT and fashion merchandising. She also spent a year living in Sydney, Australia, which certainly prepared her first Bikram yoga class: “I've always enjoyed warm climates, so the heat didn't bother me too much.” Despite her love of warm climates and hot yoga, Alexia also looks forward to the Vancouver summer so that she can “take glacial swims in the ocean” with her sister.
After that first 10 class pass she received as a gift, Alexia kept going with her Bikram yoga practice, completing a 30 Day Challenge (30 classes in 30 days) in the fall and finding peace of mind and self-acceptance along the way. What kept her coming back?: “What I love most about Bikram yoga - that I find unique and addictive - is that it presents a challenge for both body and mind. You can get a great workout, but you also need incredible mind strength and focus to do the workout.”
One of Alexia’s biggest challenges was to focus on herself in the class: “Admittedly, I am someone who loves looking at other people, so at first, the hardest part of the class was having to stare at myself in the mirror for 90 minutes. I was so curious about what everyone else was doing! Now, I relish the 90 minutes to myself, where I can (most of the time) forget about everything else and just do yoga.”
Another challenge Alexia faced when starting her Bikram yoga practice was controlling her breathing; like most people, she was holding her breath when trying really hard to hold her postures. She realizes now that breathing is the most important thing about her yoga class. Not just because it gave her the oxygen she needed to fuel her practice and concentrate on alignment, flexibility and strength, but also because it is a tool she can use her everyday life: “It's like a portable safety net. It is always there for you, and it can get you through seemingly impossible situations. Nonetheless, I must admit, it's always a work in progress. I still catch myself either holding my breath or breathing shallow.”
Alexia has committed to a regular practice, although it is anything but routine: “My schedule is never routine enough to have a Bikram yoga routine,” she explains, “I just like to come a minimum of 4 days a week, and I do my best to get there: whether it be first thing in the morning, or last thing at night.” She admits that as long as she’s organized about her time, she can schedule in yoga even though she commutes to her job in downtown Vancouver 5 days a week. She continues, “But, generally speaking, I think that if you want to be there, and you're willing to make it a priority, you'll make it happen.” On a philosophical note she suggests, “perhaps it won't be ideal, but part of yoga is accepting what you can do and understanding that things are always changing.” She also admits that this isn’t always easy.
It was this attitude that got her through her 30-Day Challenge: "I had always wanted to try one and I feel really proud of myself for having completed it." Now, yoga is a habit for Alexia: "I never thought it would become such an integral part of my life. I feel that it is now a part of who I am, more than an exercise regime."
For others thinking of challenging themselves to come everyday, or simply more often or even to their first class, Alexia offers this advice: “From my experience, it is often best not to think about things too much, but rather just commit and figure out the rest of the details afterward. Otherwise, it is easy to think yourself out of it altogether. Just show up and put your mat down. The rest will follow."
What follows for Alexia? "I think for me it's mostly about a continued effort to improve myself, physically and intellectually, and to challenge myself. I'd like to practice greater self-acceptance and understanding. As for Bikram yoga, I would like to try the master core classes, which I've never done before. ...And maybe another challenge sometime soon." In the rest of her life (What? There's more to life than yoga? Of course there is - yoga helps you enjoy your life!), Alexia plans to spend more time with loved ones, put aside more time to write and to go back to Europe.