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!"


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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