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Bikram Yoga Maple Ridge Student of the Month (January): Bhavna

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Bhavna's first Bikram Yoga class had her thirsting for more than water. Incredibly, although she remembers hating the heat, she couldn't wait for her next class. "The heat was so overwhelming. I was breathless, and even though hatha yoga was not new to me, hot yoga was. I couldn’t hold any of the postures, but, strangely enough, I came out feeling so alive & invigorated that I knew I had found something really special."

This first experience wasn't enough to transform Bhavna's life, though. Her practice remained sporadic due to family and work commitments until the Bikram Yoga Maple Ridge studio opened. With a more consistent practice she began to see the dramatic physical and mental healing benefits of this yoga practice. "I developed a painful sclerosus in 2007 for which I was taking potent topical steroids; this has now completely cleared up." She began to develop osteo arthritis in her knees and in addition, tore her right right meniscus while skiing. "My knee is now so much better. I'm able to do things that were previously painful and my skiing has actually improved." Understandably, Bhavna's instinct was to be cautious with her knee in class. She never thought she would be able to do Toe Stand: "I was so afraid of damaging my knee further that I would avoid it, until one day in June when Don told me try. Sometimes a little encouragement is all it takes. I only went as far as I could each day, always listening to my body. It was painful initially, but not anymore." Happily, Bhavna's knees are doing so well now that she doesn't need to undergo invasive surgery. As a management accountant, Bhavna has spent much of her life hunched over in front of a computer, thus plagued by back pain. She used to take painkillers for her back, but has found that back bends deliver as much relief. A food lover, Bhavna loves the fact that with a regular practice she can still enjoy eating everything she likes, especially indian sweets she remembers fondly from her childhood. She's also more calm, focused and relaxed. Homesickness and anxiety stemming from being separated from her daughters when they started school pushed her to find mental stillness in her yoga practice. "Mentally I'm so much more stronger, I've been able to let go. I have found this amazing inner peace." She credits yoga challenges with motivating her to stay regular with her practice and those around her with insipiring her to become a Bikram yoga teacher: "I came across such inspiring teachers and yogis that I decided, one day I too would like to teach this amazing yoga." That one day came this fall for Bhavna, when she traveled to Bikram's headquarters to learn from his and his staff along with 443 other prospective Bikram yoga teachers world-wide. Training can be grueling physically and emotionally; Bhavna reached her goal by tapping into her own stores of fortitude, with support from her colleagues at teacher training and through the love and generosity from her family. DSC_1121Going to teacher training meant that Bhavna would be away from her daughters for two months; happily she left them not only in good hands, but the best of hands:  "my in-laws who flew over from England to help look after my girls. If it wasn't for their sacrifices and love, I would not have been able to go to teacher training." Bhavna did her family proud at training, taking the exhausting schedule in stride: "We put in extremely long days where we had very little rest and just had to somehow keep going. There were days when my whole body would be aching because it didn't have time to recover, but there was an amazing amount of group energy that carried you through those tough times." By testing her knee in class and testing her endurance at teacher training, Bhavna realized that breakthroughs happen when we break habits, toss out excuses and push ourselves just a little harder. "I used to go to class expecting my same spot with lots of space around me. At teacher training you had very little space around you; sometimes it was cold, other times very hot. The whole experience taught me how to just accept things the way they are. Most of the time I could not even see myself in the mirror, which taught me how to focus on the way my body felt during the postures." The simple mantra of a very special teacher, Bikram's most senior teacher, the fiery and spirited 86 year-old Emmy Cleaves, also kept Bhavna focused on moving forward rather than giving up or stagnating, "She always reminded us to focus on practicing with frequency, precision & intensity." Gratefulness and a desire to help others also drove Bhavna to complete the teacher training program. "I have received so much from this yoga that I want to now share my knowledge and teach others." She knows first-hand about the benefits of yoga, and hopes to spread the word and make everyone's life happier and healthier. "I lost my parents while I was in high school to diseases that I believe may have been preventable had this yoga been available to them." Her motivation for making a regular practice a part of her life is a strong one: "To live a healthy & happy life, only then can I help my family and those around me. I want to grow old knowing that I did all I could to look after my body and mind. I want to be able to celebrate milestones in my daughters lives." Even with the known and still to be studied effects of Bikram yoga for combating lifestyle disease and depression, many people find it hard to dedicate 90 minutes to a regular yoga practice. Bhavna looks at it this way: "I'm able to do much more with my time by simply devoting 90 minutes for myself. I come out re-energized ready to face whatever the day brings. For me it has become like eating and drinking, a necessity of life." Bhavna adds that she feels fortunate to practice regularly at the Maple Ridge studio and that she hopes that others will begin to heal themselves through practicing Bikram yoga this year.

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Bikram Yoga Langley Student of the Month (January): Zahra

imageIt takes just a little bit of crazy – crazy about how she looks and feels doing Bikram yoga – to motivate Zahra to get up at 4:45 every weekday morning for her practice. If you'd have told her she'd be doing this a few years ago, she would have thought you were the one who was nuts! For Zahra, though, it's a great investment, the time she puts into her yoga practice pays off in dividends of energy: "I was doing school and working full-time for the last couple of years. When I wasn't doing yoga, I was always so tired by the end of the day… But when I did yoga, I had that little extra burst of energy." But why go first thing in the morning? "I go in the morning so that I have my evenings free to do what I need to get done. I think it's very important to put your body and your mind first.  If you don't feel well, or if you're overwhelmed, you probably can't get a lot done, but if you find the time for yoga or for a different kind work out - something that relieves your stress – more than likely you'll feel better overall." Over the years, she's seen changes in her body and her practice: "I used to have to use a nettipot almost daily to deal with my Sinus headaches, but with my regular practice, I don't need it at all anymore. I also get fewer migraines!" She's also noticed that her body is more firm and toned, her flexibility has increased and her skin is nicer. "I love seeing how I progress in each posture as every day passes. It's amazing the changes you see in your body." Even after seven years, Zahra continues to see the changes a dedicated Bikram practice brings. "My goal for my practice is to get better in each posture as every day passes. I would really like to be a able to do full [splits in] standing bow." Her body has been through some other big changes recently: she gave birth to a beautiful baby boy on December 4th. She practiced almost right up to the delivery. "I think that the yoga was a big reason why had a very easy pregnancy. I was very active throughout the entire pregnancy: I practiced 2 to 5 times a week, walked almost every day, as well as did a prenatal Bootcamp." And, as you can see from her photos, she looked fantastic throughout her pregnancy, too. It's perfectly safe to practice Bikram yoga during pregnancy for people who have practiced before; there are just a few adaptations to the series that can be learned from instructors or Rajashree's Pregnancy Yoga DVD.  image(2) Zahra first decided to try Bikram yoga after hearing about what an amazing work out it was and how good it makes you feel. "My first class was hell! Ha ha. I couldn't control my breath, I was feeling like I was going to pass out or puke. When we hit the floor series, I was shocked to know that we still had another half of the class left!" As a senior accountant, Zahra loves the opportunity to get out of her head and work with her body and plans on adding more activities to her fitness routine: "I plan to start running and, hopefully, do the sun run this year." Bikram yoga, she notes, helps her to treat her body as a temple: "I don't crave bad foods; I always feel like eating healthy." Aside from Bikram Yoga, Zahra loves spending time with family and friends, going for walks and shopping. The bond with other yogis and teachers at our studio is also somethings she loves, "I love seeing the familiar faces of other regulars and teachers. It really is a little family." If Zahra has any advice for anyone trying to find more time for their yoga practice it is: "Everyone needs to remember to live everyday to their fullest and to live everyday like it's their last." And most of all, to come to class to be rejuvenated.

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Bikram Yoga Maple Ridge Student of the Month (December): Kyla

As a healthy, active woman in her early 20s who loved outdoor activities, fitness classes and running, Kyla thought, "I'll do yoga when I'm old and I can't do all the other stuff."

That day of not being able to do "all the other stuff" came sooner than anyone could have imagined  after an ATV accident left Kyla was left with a shattered pelvis. After three months confined to a wheelchair and a long-period of rehabilitation that included learning to walk again, this fitness freak was ready for physical activity, but knew that her body couldn't handle the high-intensity work outs she was used to. That's when she turned to Bikram Yoga: "I heard it was hot. [laughs] But, I also heard it was a healing yoga. I knew that it would help me. I'm not going to lie -- being an ex-cardio junkie, I also knew that it burned A LOT of calories, which is also why I started, as I couldn't exactly run through my rehab." Kyla had enthusiasm for Bikram yoga right from her first class, "I loved it!!! I actually felt better, looser, leaner, thirstier, more energetic... And I felt like I had finally had a workout!!! It was my first good sweat in over 4 months!" Despite her 60-pound weight loss since the time of her accident, Kyla considers the calorie burning aspects of Bikram yoga as a mere fringe benefit. "The real reason I go [to class] is the MENTAL and SPIRITUAL connection that it gives me. Along with the flexibility, which allows my to be in less pain with my injury. I was actually prescribed oxycodone for my injury, and, thankfully, haven't taken it in over 2 years. Doctors are always surprised when they hear that I do not take pain meds. If it weren't for yoga, I'd be in a lot more pain on a day-to-day basis." While yoga has replaced prescription painkillers in Kyla's life, it hasn't replaced her other physical activities; instead it has enhanced and intensified her performance in running and fitness. Bikram yoga has enabled her to reconnect with a long-time passion: "I'm running -- I was told I would never run [again], and I was running about 6 months after the accident, thanks to Bikram." Bikram yoga also helped Kyla pursue a new passion, "I'm now working towards getting my pro card from the International Body Building association with bikini competitions." The long lean muscles that yoga helps to create, she explains, are key for fitness competitors. "I recently placed 2nd in Bikini B class at the Sandra Wickham Fall Classic 2012." But Kyla's greatest victories are still the small ones: "I also can now do classes with no water, which i think is pretty awesome." Despite Bikram yoga's reputation as a fierce workout, it was the fact that all efforts are rewarded that hooked Kyla: "I actually had my crutches for my first class. I took the class at my own pace, which I loved. I did the postures that I could do, and was amazed that the instructor was okay with this. That's when I fell in love with the yoga." Kyla worked her way up from completing only 3 or 4 postures per class and doing what she can each day, "I can really see my improvements -- I also love that." And, yoga encouraged her to take time for herself and work on a balance in her life: "Before my accident I was a high paced, work-work-work-type that still exercised but tried to get it all done super fast." "Yoga gives me that balance. My attitude now is that if I could choose only one activity for the rest of my life (i.e. no running, no weights, no marathons, no classes) it would be yoga. I love yoga. It gives me a little bit of everything: cardio, weight-bearing activity, stretching..." And, it even causes me to focus on my diet, as you don't want to ingest anything that is going to harm your body for your practice. Only good quality food." Coming to class is easy for Kyla, as easy as the choice between pain and feeling great. And, as she says, "It truly is only 90 minutes of my life each day and it sets me up for a stellar, wicked, awesome day. Why would I miss that?"

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Bikram Yoga Langley Student of the Month (December): Jillian

[caption id="attachment_397" align="alignleft" width="500"]Jillian Jillian, Zihuatanejo Mexico in February 2012[/caption] How do you do it? Is a question that Jillian hears quite often, meaning, how does she make time for her daily yoga practice. She's lost count of how many challenges (to complete consecutive yoga classes she's) completed: 2 or 3 30-day challenges and a 60-day challenge. She's currently on day 82 of a 100-day challenge. As you can see by her beautiful photo, she even makes time for yoga while on vacation! Bikram yoga can be humbling, especially when you're just starting out. Jillian describes her ill-informed attire for her first Bikram yoga class (not at BYL) in 2002: "I wore socks, sneakers and a baseball cap because I didn't know any better. I took off the socks and sneakers of my own accord, but the instructor, Camille, ripped the hat off my head!" If you've ever felt like a fool in class, Jillian's story proves that we all start somewhere. So, how does she make herself come back, day after day? Jillian's response suggests that it's just something she does (and doesn't think about). "I remember always wanting to do yoga everyday and never thinking I could make it work. I guess I just had to make it a priority!" She continues, "I work shift work so fitting in yoga after day shifts and between night shifts is always a challenge. On the days that I work, my day is only work, yoga and sleep. I find that no matter how tired I am when I wake up (sometimes after sleeping only a few hours between shifts) that yoga always gives me enough energy to make it through a night shift." On the practical side, Jillian always packs her towels and yoga outfit the night before and makes sure she is hydrated: "3 cups of tea before a morning class; 2 litres of water during class." The benefits of her regular practice are one thing that helps Jillian maintain a regular yoga practice. "I love the feeling of sweating out all the toxins," she enthuses -- not to mention stress relief, weight loss, increased flexibility and a great cardio work out. "My male co-workers make fun of me for doing yoga because they have no idea what it's all about." Little do they know that yoga makes Jill better at her job: "it has improved my ability to stay calm in stressful and sometimes dangerous situations, which arise often at work." Jillian says she fell in love with Bikram yoga in 2010, but she still has room in her life for her other loves: cooking, gardening ("I love my vegetable garden. This summer we had so many tomatoes, we had to give dozens away because we couldn't eat that many!") and, of course, her boyfriend. And although she describes him as a "yoga widow", he benefits from her yoga practice, too. She says she likes to test her flexibility on non-yoga moves at home, and we'll leave it at that. Jillian knows that being healthy now not only means she can fit into clothes she previously couldn't, but will also prevent arthritis, heart conditions, pulmonary disease and digestion issues, all of which run in her family. "I want to be healthy as I age because with no kids in my immediate future, I am eventually going to be that older new mom." Somehow a Bikram yoga class doesn't seem that challenging when compared with being a parent... When Jillian does become that new mom, we're sure she'll continue to kill her yoga challenges and maintain her healthy lifestyle. (And people will continue to ask her how she does it...)

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Bikram Yoga Maple Ridge Student of the Month (November): Mel

When she was a child, Mel imagined that by the time she turned 56 (an age mirroring her birth year) that she would be "super old". Instead she's discovered that a new life is just beginning: her children are grown, one just married, and she discovered Bikram Yoga and with it relief from her chronic shoulder pain.

Stress, aging, injuries and arthritis all began to create problems for Mel, a teacher by trade. "It looked like I might just have to learn to live with that chronic pain in my left shoulder and that weird hip misalignment, those tight knees and painful wrists..." Luckily, Mel was not so ready to throw in the towel as she imagined those many years ago. Instead she tried traditional gym activities and running (which she still does a few times a week), but I found certain exercises only aggravated the pain in her shoulder.

She needed a long-term solution, as stretching her shoulder against door frames was beginning to become a bit of a family joke. When she heard people talking about "hot" yoga, her curiousity was piquéd and she decided to try it out. "At first I asked to join the 'oldies' class, and the staff let me know there was no such group. In my first session I fought the heat and nausea, and I thought of little else but the buckets of sweat that poured out of my body. I worried about my clothing and how I stacked up to others around me. Then, to my horror, I found out that I needed to grasp my feet behind me while lying on my stomach and my shoulder – I knew that was definitely not going to happen." Happily, Mel didn't give up here, either, but listened to teachers and staff who assured her that flexibility would come in time.

"Personal courage and the cheerful attitude of the staff drew me back. Soon I noticed that I was not aware of anyone else in the class, and clothing was certainly the last thing I needed to worry about. I began to notice subtle shifts in my body; every day I learned more about a particular posture. Old worries about my body and what it could do began to fall away." As Mel's body began responding to the yoga with more mobility and less pain, her mind began to change, too. She let go of her preconceived ideas of what she could or couldn't do. "I was able to let my body take charge of my mind for a brief moment and leave my cares outside the room."

"Now I find my body heals quickly. I am drawn to show up again, and again because this practise is not only giving me my body back, but it is also giving me balance in my life. I have even begun to believe that my shoulder and I have plenty pain free days ahead. Who knows, we may make it through the next 56 years together!"

Confidence, a calm mind and the positivity that comes from freedom from chronic pain are incredible benefits to doing yoga. And Mel hopes that others will enjoy these benefits, too. "I would like to encourage anyone regardless of age, body type and gender to give Bikram a try. Don’t give up after the first session. Keep coming, and one day, like me, you may be able to grasp your feet behind your head and remember how it feels to be alive."

With the support, encouragement, tea and companionship of the staff at Bikram Yoga Maple Ridge, Mel's goals are now: "to lose weight permanently, to continue to strengthen my body and mind and to continue to learn about pain free ways to move into the best part of my life!"


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Bikram Yoga Langley Student of the Month (November): Heather

Heather is much like many other people who try Bikram yoga: she thought that yoga was only for the flexible. She feels the need to add (as many other people do) that she is not flexible. But Heather is unlike so many people because at 53 years of age she put aside her excuses and really committed to yoga. After only a month at our studio, she signed up to do a 30-day challenge – to complete 30 classes in 30 days! Heather, who has worked at Overwaitea Food Group for 26 years and loves her job, confides that she has been wanting to try yoga for 2 years, because she's seen what a difference it has made for co-workers who do the yoga. Already she's noticing that she sleeps better and her health and fitness are improving. Can you believe that a daily yoga practice has also made her time with her family (she has three children and a grand-daughter) more enjoyable? That's right: "My job can be very stressful, so by going to yoga right after work, I put all the worries of the day behind me and then have a great evening at home or out and about with friends and family." With a regular schedule of doing yoga on weekdays at 4 PM and on weekends at 8 AM, Heather should have no difficulty completing her challenge and meeting her ultimate goal of weight loss. Although Heather is a paragon of cheerful determination with her yoga practice, her devotion to Bikram yoga wasn't necessarily simple or easy: "My first class was very hard, but I managed to stay in the room and at least try all of the poses." Although she's been doing Bikram yoga for about two months now, she says that she still finds the classes very hard, but loves coming to our studio because everyone is so nice and helpful. And, I bet she doesn't describe herself as inflexible anymore.

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Bikram Yoga Langley Student of the Month (October): Francis

In the four months he's been attending our Langley studio, Francis and his beautiful dahlias have become a familiar sight. This 68 year-old husband and father of three has made some incredible progress in his health, and he's not shy about sharing the benefits he's experienced from doing Bikram Yoga.

Sports were a way of life for Francis, whose business was real estate development, until he suffered a severe back injury in May of 2011. At that time, he was confined to bed, being only able to lay on his stomach in a concave position with head and feet elevated.

Bikram Yoga was first mentioned to him when he sought treatment for his neck while on vacation in Hawaii in February of this year. When he returned to Langley, his local RMT strongly cautioned him against Bikram Yoga, suggesting that it would be too much for him, but endorsed yoga as rehabilitation.

Swallowing what he now realizes was false macho pride, Francis began to practice yoga to relieve his pain and immediately took to it. Again and again, Bikram Yoga would come up in conversation, and again and again he was warned off of it.

As a hockey player Francis prefers to meet challenges head-on rather than back off, so decided to see for himself what Bikram Yoga was all about - he's never looked back. Francis says, "I was immediately addicted and have not gone back to regular yoga since (4 Months now)." To all of his macho hockey and golf buddies that scoff at his yoga, Francis dares them to try a class and heal themselves. So far, three of his friends are also doing yoga at his prompting.

The healing that Francis has undergone is incredible. "When I began, there was virtually no pose I could manage save the breathing exercises, which in themselves were a challenge," Francis recalls. With perseverance, he has improved his range of motion and balance: "I am  elated that I can do nearly all of the poses." He also loves getting his aerobic workout in yoga class rather than through swimming, which he complains is boring.

"The biggest excitement is that a severe stenosis emanating from my spinal column injury is easing a little so that there are occasions that my right foot is not numb and tingling."

From bedridden to hitting the links, is quite a journey. Especially for someone who as little as three months ago dreaded that he would never be able to golf again. Francis states with no small anticipation, "I am very much looking forward to rejoining my buds at our annual fall golf get-together."

Life certainly is coming up a bed of dahlias for Francis, who has also lost 15 pounds, mostly from the waist, without changing his eating habits.

"I hope I am not too optimistic, but I am quietly confident that with another number of months of continued Bikram Practice, my back injury and stenosis will have dissipated to the point where it is an insignificant factor in my life."

 

Would you like to be featured as a Student of the Month, or do you have a suggestion of someone we should feature? Let us know at: info@bikramyogalangley.ca 


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Bikram Yoga Maple Ridge Student of the Month (October 2012): Dave

When he was told that he was going to be featured as our Student of the Month, Dave's reaction was, "What!!? Me!!? Student of the Month? I mean, it's an honour just to be nominated, but.. You like me; you really LIKE me!!"

If you don't already know him, that gives you a taste of what a great sense of humour Dave has, even when he's "playing 'Simon Says' in Hell". (That's what he calls Bikram Yoga classes.)

Considering that Dave is also a Major in the Army Reserves and manages the City of Vancouver's Tactical Training Centre, I'm sure our instructors are not the toughest task-masters he's ever seen. Dave begs to differ. He recounts the horror of his first class thus: "after about an hour, when I was sure I could not take one more minute in that place, the instructor (I think it was Mary) said, "Okay, we're almost halfway done!"

Although Dave still puts a Bikram class on par with the heat of The Sun, he loves what it's done for him: "It's a little known fact, but Bikram Yoga actually helps one prepare for the Army Battle Fitness Test." (Thanks to Drill Sargent Mary.)

Dave's 'hot' and flexible figure has also been garnering comments. In the first six months of practicing, he lost 30 pounds. Even better, he brags that he can now put his socks on without sitting down first. He's also been able to cut back on his blood pressure medication, sleeps better, has more energy, is more flexible, has less joint pain and says "life just seems easier to handle."

For someone who never imagined he would've been doing something like this before his wife signed him up for Bikram classes, Dave sounds like a committed yogi: "I like the effects on my health and fitness the most, but I also like that every time I go into the studio I am facing a challenge and succeeding. The first day I actually did a recognizable Floor Bow was, well, it was a good day."

Dave's future goals for his life, yoga practice and health include more all of these - more life, more yoga and more health.


 

Hear what he had to say back in April:   

 

Dave W testimonial
 

 


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An Open Letter to Bikram Yoga Practitioners and Frenzied Back-to-Schoolers,

Dear Fellow Bikram Yoga Practitioners and Frenzied Back-to-Schoolers, There’s meditation. There’s music. And then there’s yoga. Bikram’s Hot Yoga. -- what Bikram himself refers to as ‘the torture chamber’ – but perhaps I would like to add ‘a more than gracious one.’ Tell me…do we suffer from a madness only 40 degrees Celsius can cure? If the very thought of licking a bead of sweat off your knee cap while engaged in the standing head to knee pose sends a gripping chill straight up your thighs, I’m afraid you’ve got the madness too. I know I do. And like the others, I love doing Bikram’s Yoga and absolutely can’t get enough because… “…in a world that is becoming ever more demanding and uncertain, my yoga practice strengthens my resistance against stress and trains my mind to stay focused on what matters…” “…because yoga – in and of itself – has no deadlines and requires no note-taking. It requests nothing, expects nothing, and wants nothing more than my dedication in the moment, my determination to stay in the room, and my patience to witness my own mind drama and set it aside for ninety minutes…” I know. I may have this madness pretty bad. But I’m not the only one. When we’re not tearing into a brand new shipment of Shakti activewear and wrapping our bodies around the heap in pure ecstasy, we’re doing Bikram’s Hot Yoga. When we’re not laundering yoga towels, hanging mats and sun-drying teensy outfits, we’re doing Bikram’s Hot Yoga. When we’re not waking up in the morning laying in Savasana with a textbook on our chest… …chilling water bottles…hoarding coconut water…drooling over a necessary boost of evening caffeine… ...we’re doing Bikram’s Hot Yoga. Your commitment to attending on a regular basis throughout the school year will bring you the natural energy and mind control you need on a daily basis, one that supports your focus, determination, and motivation to reach your highest potential. If you love it – love the idea of a calmer and more peaceful YOU, along with greater mental clarity and ability to handle pressure more effectively…then I’m sure you’ll want to take advantage of Candice’s generous back-to-school offer before September 15, 2012. ONLY $649 for unlimited classes until April 30, 2013 for all students with a valid ID!   ($699 for non-students) Where else can we train the mind to push past emotional obstacles, stretch and manipulate each and every muscle in our entire body AND purge toxins in 40% humidity – all at the same timefor 35 cents a day and 90 minutes out of our schedule? Namaste, Lauren Plaviak P.S.  Remember, there is a cure for this madness! Take advantage of the back-to-school special before September 15 and rid yourself of this insanity. Nourish your body, mind and soul this Fall and Winter semester for pennies a day! 

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Reflections of the Past 5 Years from Long-time Students

As Bikram Yoga Langley celebrates our 5th anniversary, we asked some of our longest-standing students to reflect on the past five years.   RAJ (Second Most Yoga Classes Completed at BYL - 1111 Yoga Classes so far) Raj has been practicing since Day One and claims; "I loved it after the first class." He recalls his first class in terms that ring true with any Bikram Yoga practitioner, "you don't think in the first class; you just get through it. I felt so good when it was done." Raj, who brightens the studio with his dazzling smile and bright orange flight bag, reports an all-over improvement in body function and lowered blood pressure thanks to his yoga practice. After five years, he's outgrown his dislike for Camel Pose, embracing all postures equally and positively. Raj's advice to new yogis is straightforward, "just keep coming every day." "It's good exercise and you should give it a try," he adds.   SUSAN (Most Yoga Classes Completed at BYL - 1169 Yoga Classes so far) Long-time student, Susan, describes her first encounter with Bikram Yoga as “cheating on the gym”, but "[it] very quickly became all yoga and very little gym." From her dedicated Bikram Yoga practice, Susan has gained many of the things she wanted - breathing, flexibility and balance and has benefitted in ways she never anticipated. She'll never forget her first class: "Without the teacher's wonderful dialogue and encouragement, I wouldn't have come back. I'm claustrophobic, and the yoga has really helped with my breathing and panic." And her focus has gotten better, too. Susan's favorite postures, she admits, are ones that she's feels she's good at. She also confesses that Standing Head to Knee is still not her favorite, but "it doesn't cause the panic it used to." One thing Susan doesn't seem to have any trouble with at all is getting up nearly every morning for a 6 A.M. class. "[Bikram Yoga] is a valuable part of my routine & feel like something's missing if I don't practice. I hope everyone can find something as valuable for themselves. “When asked what advice she has for new yogis, Susan responded with the kind of caring that she experienced as a newcomer to the studio, "be brave & gentle with yourself at the same time. Be focused but not too serious. Try hard but don't beat yourself up – people can get discouraged & I hate to see that."   LINDA Her daughter dragged Linda to her first Bikram yoga class, shortly after our studio opened. She recalls that this first class was “very hard”, nothing like the other yoga she had done. After a hiatus (and celebrating her 60th birthday), Linda returned to Bikram yoga (and our studio) to remedy her knee issues. “And to lose weight,” she adds. “I gained a lot of weight going to ‘all-inclusive’ on holidays.” Not only are Linda’s knees “pretty much back to normal” now, but also she lost 15 pounds in one year and went from a size 12 to a size 8. That’s not all that’s changed for Linda: Camel pose is becoming one of her favorite postures because, she confides, she can do it now! Having experienced all of these amazing benefits, Linda is now the one dragging people to their first yoga class. “I told my sister to start going, and she goes to the studio in Winnipeg now.”  Linda’s advice for new Bikram Yoga practitioners is: “It’s just a matter of getting there and doing it.” In fact, this is great advice for everyone, new or not, to Bikram yoga.   LORA Some students don’t have to be dragged to their first class. Lora was excited by the idea of doing something “terrifying and hard.” She says that she was looking for an opportunity to expand her practice (she did other types of yoga before); she saw that Bikram Yoga Langley was opening, so she gave it a try, and “that was it.” Lora has been fully dedicated to Bikram yoga for the past 5 years. “Unbelievably,” she reminisces, “I had a really good [first] class. I was like, ‘Oh, yeah. I can do that every day.’” Next came the realization that she could do better and the will to continue to improve. “You plateau for months and months,” she laments, “then all of a sudden something else changes. You have those light bulb moments when you hear the dialogue, and you’re like, ‘Oh, sucking in my stomach does make a difference or locking your knee does make a difference.’ It takes me a while to get into postures sometimes now, but the more I pay attention to all those things, the less I hurt, the better I do.” Lora has noticed changes at our studio as well as in her practice, as more and more of her fellow students have become teachers. It’s an inspirational example.  Lora sees Bikram yoga as “a good, healthy addiction”, and encourages everyone to “just smile at yourself when things are a little rough in the room.”   ANONYMOUS YOGINI We have one especially dedicated yogini here, but in keeping with her wish to remain anonymous, we’ll call her the Anonymous Yogini. This Yogini speaks from her own perspective and experience (a full five years at this studio), but she also speaks for all yogis at Bikram Yoga Langley. The search for peace and learning how to breathe first brought the Anonymous Yogini to our studio. In her first class she decided, “This is for me, and I can do it, even though it’s very difficult.” Peace from her thoughts has been one of her key challenges, but she has learned to listen to the words of the instructor rather than her screaming joints and muscles or that puckish voice urging her to leave the class to visit the bathroom. Breathing does come more easily for the Anonymous Yogini now and making it though a class without a washroom break is a piece of cake. Her least favorite postures have become her favorites and vice versa. And she’s also seen our Dracaena plant grow from a puny sprout to an enormous green tree that dwarfs our cooler. The Anonymous Yogini has wise words of advice for new yogis: “drink lots before you come; practice often; buy the blue book [Bikram’s Beginning Yoga Class], and just compare yourself to yourself, no everyone else.”   LEILANI Someone who always seems to be happy to be at yoga is Leilani, who received a 3-month membership as a gift from her brother all those years ago. She assures me, though, that she wasn’t so happy in her first class: “I thought I was going to die from heat exhaustion!” She’s noticed that her whole being is calmer and she’s more in control of her health, thanks to Bikram Yoga. She’s also noticed that all of her postures have improved over time. One change that she’s eagerly anticipating is the new Flotex flooring in our yoga room. Leilani advises new students to “be patient and don’t be so hard on yourself.” And adds, “I hope everyone’s unique stores will inspire everyone to do some sort of exercise, whether it be hot yoga or not.” We couldn’t agree more. We hope that all of our members will share their inspirational stories with each other and that everyone tries a free class during our anniversary celebrations, on August 18th. We look forward to celebrating students, staff and teachers that have made Bikram Yoga Langley, in Susan's words, "a wonderful place to be" for the last five years and look forward to celebrating many more with you.    

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