She'd seen women walking with their rolled up mats and envied their purposeful stride and the air of freedom around them. "I wanted to 'get that' and give it a try, but never imagined myself really doing it."
Then the opportunity arose when Nathalie's good friend Jamie invited Nathalie to join her at a Bikram yoga class. Nathalie was intimidated but ready to try something new: "opportunity was knocking, and I was ready to answer." Nervous butterflies multiplied as she lay on her mat for five minutes before class: "I was all mixed emotion: wondering if I made the right decision on coming or not. I turned my head towards Jamie and she gave me a great big smile, as if to welcome me to serenity." Although Nathalie smiled back, hoping desperately for the peace her friend exuded, she was really wondering if she could escape without tripping over the other yogis.
Then the teacher entered the classroom; "no turning back, now," Nathalie thought.
Nathalie is passionate about Bikram yoga - it's done so much for her, and she wants to let everyone know. But, she still remembers the difficulties she had in her first class, and which, started long before she entered the classroom.
"I stood up and looked right at myself in these great big wall to wall mirrors; I hated every moment if it. I hated the way I looked. I couldn't breathe. I had no balance, no strength and my postures were awful," she moans. "The moment the class ended, I was speechless: I did it!!! When I walked out of that studio, I was so thankful that I was still alive." However, Bikram wasn't a horrible experience for Nathalie at all: "It touch me emotionally mentally and spiritually." Looking back, Nathalie realizes that this was a pivotal moment in her life. She had found something that was so much more than a work out.
Almost immediately, she experienced the rewards of doing Bikram yoga: "I was so happy of my accomplishment - that I managed to stay in that 'torture chamber' for the whole 90 minutes. The rewards I felt were new and something I wasn’t use to." Nathalie was able to give herself a real pat on the back and felt good in her soul and body. Added to this, "That night I had the best sleep ever."
She went back for another class the next day. She knew what to expect this time, and before long, she was hooked. She did 30-day Challenges and had lots of fun doing team challenges with her new, genuine and supportive friends. She recalls her team, the Hot Tamales, fondly. She loved the exhilarating feeling of pushing herself to meet her challenge goals: "Sometimes I would do back-to-back classes. I was feeling good! I realized how flexible my body was starting to get and how much yoga helped me with my chronic migraines."
flexibility, healing in her body and relief from migraines are only the tip of the iceberg as far as the benefits Nathalie has experienced: "I've been noticing the changes in my body – the confidence in me when I look at myself in the mirror – now I'm loving what I see. I was changing day by day into ME."
Today Nathalie says she feels a new purpose in her life. Nathalie never imagined that she would one day be "that girl", striding around confidently with her rolled up yoga mat, exuding inner peace and self-love. "I began to be proud of my body and what we do together. I was flexible, and I could see myself making progress in my strength and balance. I was learning how to breathe and focus. I felt amazed at my new lifestyle – I was focusing on me."
She realizes that focusing on herself and being disciplined with herself isn't selfish. Yoga give her more patience for her children: Christopher, Trevor and John, as well as her two step-children Paige and Tim. Nathalie plans on leading a long and stress-free life; having 5 children of your own and being a childcare professional hardly sounds stress-free, so it's no wonder that she's so dedicated to her yoga practice. "As of right now I go 3 times a weeks, unless I am on a yoga challenge," she says simply. Nathalie's friends admire that she stays consistent with her yoga practice. How does she do it? "I make it as an appointment, not a schedule," she explains, "because if it's an appointment, you never miss an appointment."
In addition to yoga, Nathalie enjoys cross-fit and other activities and has noticed that she can pursue these interests with less strains and injuries thanks to her yoga practice. In fact, those around her often marvel at her strength and balance.
Nathalie is excited to share how much she loves yoga and hopes that more people will experience the kind of transformation she has by just giving Bikram yoga a try: "I hope your butterflies drag you in. You, too, will find how much accomplishment and empowerment it will bring into your life."