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.