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Student of the Month: Tom McConnell

Two things can get me up at 5:00 am: fishing and hot yoga.

My name is Tom McConnell and I am married to Susan McConnell with two adult children; Colin (24) and Michelle (21).  I started to practice yoga about two and a half years ago when I was 25+ pounds heavier.

Not only was I 25+ pounds heavier,  I was a stiff 44 year old man who continually complained of a bad back due to years of carpet cleaning.  I just thought it was irreversible damage that I would have to live with.  Thanks to Bikram Yoga, that pain is gone.

Bikram Yoga has changed my life in many ways, not only the obvious flexibility (that is still a work in progress), but my body is changing and transforming right before my eyes.  If you told me three years ago that I would be stretching in a hot room full of people without a shirt and actually enjoying it, I would have said you were out of your mind.

Bikram Yoga is the hardest and most satisfying workout I have ever done.  I have worked out with weights for years, ran a half marathon, and completed the grouse grind - but nothing can compare to the focus and strength needed for 90 minutes in a hot room holding and stretching your every muscle.  Some days just staying in the room is my best achievement for the day, other times I leave feeling like I just went 10 rounds with a gorilla and I can’t wait for my next session.

Physical changes are just the beginning.  I am a Real Estate Agent working in these very trying economic times.  I’m not only surviving but I’m thriving thanks to the sense of peace from 90 minutes of meditation; connecting my body, mind, and spirit to handle daily stresses.

So thanks to thank all the teachers and fellow students who are helping me along my journey.  I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for you.

Thank you,

Tom


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STUDENTS OF THE MONTH: Hiromi and Hiroshi Ezaki

Our Bikram Yoga story started at the end of April 2011. Actually, my very first time was a few months earlier. I remember very well how it all went. My dear friend, Jodi, had been raving about yoga in the "torture" chamber, how awesome and amazing it was to sweat and almost die every time she went. I listened to her on and off, not giving it much thought, until she asked if I wanted to go. Her studio had a bring a friend for free weekend. I thought she was crazy. Why in the world would I go into a hot, sweaty, stinky room for ninety minutes - you can't talk, and you can't leave! If anyone knows me, they know that I carry hand sanitizer almost everywhere I go, and I can't stand the heat. I will sleep with the window open even when it's snowing outside. So when I agreed to go it was mere curiosity and extreme stubbornness that made me believe I can do it. I must have texted Jodi a few times that day. "What should I eat, when? How much water do I drink? I'm picking you up when - but class doesn't start for a whole hour!" Sound like a bit of a nervous wreck? Yes, I was nervous!

Once there, it was like stepping into a room of beautiful, friendly, smiling angles aka the front desk girls. They look so sweet and have such encouraging words like, "For your first time, just try to stay in the room." How bad could this be? As I filled out my form, a line of sweating, lifeless, yogi-like people walked out into the lobby, some straight out to the balcony. I will never forget my moment of, "Oh, Oh crap!" Secondly, I followed Jodi into the change room. She promptly gets into her tiny, little bikini. Oh dear... I brought my running top and Lulu pants. I went outside and bought a tiny pair of shorts.

So needless to say, I did survive the room. My mind and body have never been more shocked. I must have gone into either autopilot or survival mode. I did make eye contact with Jodi once or twice (damn she's good) but she didn't look like she was partying it up either... She looked concerned for me, but I thought it was supposed to be easier for her. I swore I would never go back. It was HARD. Funny thing is, I did go back. I bought their two-week, unlimited and went almost everyday. I had to give Bikram Yoga and myself a fair chance. For the first four times I got mad at myself for being back in the room, each time promising myself it was the last time.

So why did I go back? Because I love it! After my two weeks, I took a few months off, and started back up a few days before May - with my dad! He has been a workaholic his entire life. Yoga was never in his vocabulary. I don't think he would have been quite as interested if I didn't use the words "Very hot, hard, and exhausting; feel like dying!" It was a challenge, "How could anything be THAT hard?" With half a "smirk" I took him, and after the "warm up" during set up for Triangle Pose, he smacked my hand, hard. HA!

 That was the first day of his 30-Day Challenge. He even did a couple of doubles! We both agree that Bikram Yoga has been one of the best things to happen to us. As a senior, my dad has noticed huge differences in mobility and flexibility. The ninety minutes that we dedicate to ourselves is better than vitamins or supplements. It is therapy that is invaluable. My dad inspires me. All the yogis and yoginis, the teachers, and the staff inspire us. My dad is motivated to staying young and healthy. The smiles at the front motivate him. I couldn't thank BYL enough for being where they are. What an amazing addition to our lives! See you in the hot room.


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