Pregnancy can take a toll on your body; so much is changing - hormones, body weight, nutrition needs, joint mobility… Seven months into her second pregnancy, Jocelyn describes her body and yoga practice: "Pregnancy is a crazy thing, I feel like an old person with brittle joints that might collapse at any moment. Bikram yoga has helped to relieve some of the pain in my joints and back, as well as strengthen these same joints and ligaments as they change and shift throughout the trimesters. This makes sleeping a bit easier, and standing not so painful."Many women are nervous about practicing Bikram yoga while pregnant, but the pregancy series is designed for pregnant women to practice safely - benefits of particular benefit to mothers-to-be are muscle strength and stamina, detoxification and patience. This practice is meant to nurture both mother and child, and requires one to be cautious but not afraid: "Since becoming pregnant, I've had to back off in postures and 'soften' where needed, since there is a lot going on right now with my body. Pregnancy is a time for patience with your body, and the yoga room teaches me how to be patient with and respectful of my body. I definitely don't look like my neighbor in postures, but I'm glad for the process my body is going through." Some previous big changes had brought Jocelyn to Bikram yoga for the first time in 2011: "My older sister had been going to Bikram Yoga in Calgary very regularly. I was 2 months post-partum and very nervous, albeit, eager to see how this class would change me." In particular, this new mom wanted to get her pre-pregnancy body back. [caption id="attachment_594" align="alignright" width="300"] Wren does yoga too![/caption] She credits the support of her sisters and her own drive to take care of her body with helping her get through that first class with relative ease, although she admits, "I wore pants and a t-shirt, probably the hottest thing I could have worn, and piled into a hot room occupied by 70 other students." All-in-all, Jocelyn's first class was a success, "My two sisters were laying next to me, and we encouraged each other through the 90 minutes. I left with a huge smile on my face, a high almost, and wanting to come back. A couple months later, I found that Maple Ridge had a Bikram studio, so I signed up for the 2 weeks and came as much as my baby would allow me to leave her." The result of a regular yoga practice has been fitter body, calmer mind and a more developed mind/body connection for Jocelyn: " Since coming to yoga, not only have I felt strength again, but renewed self-confidence and a release of anxiety. Yoga is a beautiful tool for mind/body connection. I feel more in tune with my body now than ever before. If you have any stress or anxiety (in body or mind), you will feel it in postures; you can not hide in the hot room." Working full time while also raising a two-year old can be demaning; Jocelyn says that planning is her best friend, particularly when it comes to maintaining her yoga practice. "I remember this quote: 'If we fail to plan, then we plan to fail.' It's blunt and to the point. Planning a couple classes at the beginning of the week helps me to stay focused and it is also easier for my family since we can plan when I'll be gone." Jocelyn also brings the connection she has formed with her body to her scheduling, "I allow myself to assess whether I'm fully prepared (mentally and physically) for a class that I've planned to go to: for example, if my feet are far too puffy, then it's just as important that I put them up." Jocelyn will be taking maternity leave from her position at the Bikram Yoga Maple Ridge studio's front desk soon, but is looking forward to visiting the studio with a newborn quite before too long. Until then, she will continue to be inspired by each and every student and practice with integrity and with attention to her body each day. She describes the supportive community environment of the studio this way, "It makes coming to work a blessing rather than a job!" Jocelyn's long-term plans include listening to and responding to her body's needs, and to pass her healthy life-style habits on to her two childen: "I want to be treating my body with the utmost respect. To me this means, feeding it nutritious food, moving, stretching, challenging it in new ways all the while, being content with myself. Bikram Yoga is a well suited practice for me to reach some of these goals since "our body is different each day, we will respond differently to them each class which makes it still a challenging workout". I would love to someday bring my kids into the hot room with me so they could also learn what I have from Bikram Yoga."
Some people think they don’t have time for yoga. Charlene, was only too happy to add yoga to her long list of activities: an interior designer and architect, she keeps busy with Latin and Italian studies, gardening and playing with her dogs.She says she likes to stay busy to keep from missing her two children, away at university. Earlier in the year, Charlene was missing something else – her mobility! A weight training injury had reduced her to using her umbrella as a makeshift cane. When her son noticed this, he suggested that she try Bikram yoga, which he found relieved his school stress. That 90 minute class seemed like an eternity, but not because Charlene missed her son so much. “I remember laying out half of the class, and frantically searching for a clock. I rolled over and asked the lady beside me, ‘Is this almost over?’ She nodded, but it still seemed like an eternity before Ellena asked me to get up and do the last posture.” That was five and a half months and more than 165 classes ago. Charlene claims she just kept telling herself, “You can do this.” “This” means completing challenge after challenge; Charlene is currently 122 classes into her 150 day challenge. “I like being in a challenge,” Charlene explains, “because it commits me to make up for missed days.” She likes to say, “I came because I had to, but I stay because I want too.” Charlene has not only healed a crippling injury in less than a year, but credits “learning how to breathe” easing her asthma, decreased her migraines and dealing with stress. “After 35 years spent hunched over a drafting board my posture was compromised.” She adds, excitedly, “Candice taught me to focus on form and alignment, gave me exercises to do at home and now my half moon is looking slightly acceptable.” We know that Charlene’s half moon pose is more than slightly acceptable. Besides feeling great, she credits the environment of our studio with helping her to get and stay motivated with her yoga practice: “The support and encouragement I have received from teachers, staff and fellow students has been extremely helpful. I have met so many inspirational people that I just want to be part of this yoga world and maybe some will rub off on me.” Charlene says she would have never thought of trying yoga if her son hadn’t pushed her into it. Since starting yoga, is she doing anything else she never expected? “Yes, I carried 3 yards of soil this spring and had absolutely NO back pain.” Her family, she says, have noticed that she is also more calm and relaxed. (But still very, very busy!) Since her first class, she’s learned plenty of amazing lessons, including that yoga doesn’t have to be painful. “Bikram Yoga has changed my life physically, mentally and emotionally. It's become like oxygen, I need it everyday.” [caption id="attachment_585" align="aligncenter" width="440"] form
Despite all the scary (and untrue!) things he’d heard about Bikram yoga – horriby stifling heat, smelly, unhygienic, impossible to do over the long haul – Dave dared himself to do his first Bikram yoga class.Chronic back pain and his doctor’s advice set him on the path to a regular yoga practice – although he struggled in the beginning, he has seen so many positive changes since starting the yoga. Dave recounts his early expriences: “Terrified… Couldn’t breathe. I thought I was going to die. The next day, my second class was even worse!” Dave skipped day three, but came to class on day four and hasn’t looked back since. “ I learned to really, honest-to-God, breathe; to breathe where I can calm and ground myself. My back and knees are greatly improved (when I am not falling down stairs), and I have an overall feeling of wellness that I have never experienced before.” He adds, “Ask anyone, the skin feels the best.” Yes, this hard-working Dad has even thrown out all of his beauty creams since starting Bikram yoga – he simply doesn’t need them anymore! Joking aside, Dave has noticed the effects of Bikram yoga in everything he does. His job managing a shipping company that looks after the large freighters that load or discharge in Canadian waters for their owners who are overseas can be stressful. Dave uses his yogi mastery of breathing to help keep him calm at work, but notes that “after an especially hard or stressful day, 90 minutes in the room is just what the doctor ordered. It doesn’t matter how I feel going in, 99 times out of a hundred I feel much better on the way out.” Although Dave’s family and co-workers tease him about his dedication to Bikram yoga, and he admits that he encourages everyone he can to try his Bikram yoga – which has also helped him recover from a car accident and knee surgery. Dave admits that he’d rather be sitting on the couch and also admits to being a foodie – loving both cooking and eating. Dave find that yoga curbs his appetite and helps to keep him in the excellent shape he enjoyed before he moved from an acreage with animals to a house in the suburbs with a comparatively low-maintance yard. Although Dave never imagined he would make it beyond those first few classes, he's been doing Bikram yoga for over two years. Now, he looks at new students and wants to reassure them that it will get better: "I watch them try to breathe and wipe their sweat. I want to go up to them and tell them 'DON’T wipe,' and how to breath. It took me sooo long to get my breath right, and I really regret that I didn’t listen and believe when listening to the teachers in class. It makes such an impact on the class experience.” Now that he’s feeling great in class, Dave’s goal is to do Standing Head to Knee: “Having just having had my knee surgery, after 2 years of practicing, I am just now feeling like this may be a goal I will achieve. I am finally, on good days, able to get my leg lifted and straight for a few seconds (some times more seconds than others). While some may laugh, for me, even a single second is like winning a marathon! It takes so much for me to pull it all together. I have no idea what the poor teachers think each class I try this pose but, I am soooo trying! The head to knee will be tough, but I am convinced it is possible - even for me! The posture I dreaded the most is now the posture I look most forward to!!!” Dave’s family is there to support him in this yoga goals and his overall practice. “I have a wife who supports my practice, and my kids are 17 and 20, so they don’t need me around so much.” He also asserts how important the teachers and staff at our studio are for keeping him coming to class and trying his best, "The cheery faces on a crappy day really does make a difference." Of course, mental discipline plays a role in Dave making it to yoga and working on his standing head to knee, as well, “I just make the time,” he says simply.
Sparrow claims he was so busy doing yoga that he barely had time to tell us more about himself as Bikram Yoga Maple Ridge's student of the month for June. We're pleased that he can share and inspire you with his dedication to yoga and all of the changes he's seen in a few short months. This mechanic and father of two teens, has always had a passion for outdoor activities – "running, biking, hiking, and anything outdoors" – and had been doing yoga for about a year when he decided to try Bikram yoga. "I had always wanted to try Bikram's," he says. Friends at work who do Bikram yoga piqued his interest, and he jumped on the chance to try it out when he saw an intro offer in the local newspaper.
"The first class was great – hard, but very enjoyable. Everyone was very friendly and encouraging; I think I went every day that first week." He kept the momentum of a daily practice going and promptly signed up for a 30-Day Challenge - doing 30 consecutive yoga classes in 30 days. "It's hard to find time but you have to make yourself a priority some times." Sparrow acknowledges that everyone faces challenges making time for yoga and notes, "for me it's a bit easier: my kids are older, so they are glad when I leave them alone." Notably, some things have gotten easier for Sparrow since he dedicated himself to a regular Bikram yoga practice (his regular schedule is about 5 times per week): "Bikram's has really helped me in prevention of further injuries. I like running, but was continuously getting injured. I'm a mechanic, so I'm always lifting heavy things or putting my back in awkward positions." He is both amazed and grateful that a 90-minute yoga class can heal the damage and injuries caused by his other activities. In fact, he's experienced a virtual avalanche of benefits for mind and body since starting Bikram yoga only a few months ago: in addition to restoring the body, he's noticed weight loss and calming of the mind. "I always try to have a positive outlook; going to Bikram's definitely helps to deal with stressful things that happen in life."
A lot of people talk about how difficult and unpleasant their first Bikram yoga class was, but Annick's memories of her first class at Bikram Yoga Maple Ridge are quite different: "I remember this feeling of relief when I walked in the door because I knew that I belonged, and that I had found my healing place."Okay, Annick might've found her first class challenging, "it was hot, emotional and uncomfortable," but she also found "a sense of hope once I was finished." A lot of pain, misery and stress had brought this mother of two to the threshold of the yoga room: "I was very overwhelmed with my 8 year old daughter, who suffered from Opposition Defiance Disorder and extreme anxiety. I buried myself in intense exercise, and, as a result, suffered several back injuries and hernias, which needed surgery. In May 2011 my dad passed away at the age of 64; he was in Belgium, where I was raised. I came back from Europe at the end of my rope. My grief was beyond pain, and after a few session with a counsellor and 6 months of sleepless nights, I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. My bests friends were my anti-depressants, food and the TV!" Using breathing, focus and determination to make it through her classes, Annick finally felt like she was in control. "For once I didn’t have to talk to anyone about my feelings. I could just feel them and let them go. I knew after a few classes that I was in this practice for the long term, but never imagined that I would have a sense of peace, like I do today, just by joining Bikram." Annick credits her regular yoga practice with helping her live with her feelings, instead of ignoring them. She is able to focus on what she can change and not let what she can't eat at her; she recognizes and addresses the triggers for anxiety before she hits rock bottom. She needs antidepressants less and less – she is now on the lowest dose available, and her goal is to live medication-free in the next few months. She's also made great strides in her physical recovery from her back injuries and surgeries: "I am learning that with a healthy spine and proper breathing, I can get through stress with less pain." Yoga is reminds Annick that a healthy and balanced diet results in a healthy and balanced practice: "I am one of the lucky ones and never had to diet to stay at a healthy weight, but I have a very sensitive stomach, and need to watch what I eat on a regular basis." Managing stress, depression and anxiety has improved Annick's quality of life, helped her meet challenges in her job as the online secretary and Special Needs Assistant in the French School District in Port Coquitlam and strengthened her relationship with her family. "I have received a lot of compliments on my overall appearance and how healthy I look, but my best compliment comes from my girls, who tell me every day that they love me because I am who I am. Before Bikram, I never took the time to listen. Today I am hearing them, even in their smiles!" Annick hopes to bring her love of yoga and love of her family together by practicing with her whole family. Her other goal is to do a 30-day challenge. Currently, Annick practices between 5 and 6 times a week, and she seems to love everything about the classes: "I love 6 am classes for the intimacy of the class, and the afternoon classes of the intensity of the heat and the chance to challenge my breathing and stay strong and focused. I love the discipline it requires. Every posture has a role and the structure of the practice is comforting to me." Even though she loves the yoga and it has transformed her life, some might wonder how she finds the time to practice 5 or 6 times per week while working and raising two children while her husband is traveling for business on average every second week. Her answer is simple, direct and imperative: "It is not a commitment to me. It is a lifestyle." Annick realizes that Bikram yoga is a journey. She knows that it will take her and her family to great places. We hope to see this inspirational mom realizing her dream and practicing alongside of her whole family soon!
Even people who love being physically active can avoid doing what's best for their health. Just ask Lucy – she admits that she "only did what I had to do to survive doing what I wanted to do" when it came to toning and stretching. Finishing a marathon is a glamour moment; stretching hamstrings before and after is not.There's hardly a sport that Lucy isn't crazy about: downhill skiing, mountain biking, aerobics, long distance running and road cycling. In fact, Lucy has run around 20 full marathons, including ones in Ottawa, Portland, Port Angeles, Chicago, New York, Boston, Sacramento, Victoria and Berlin. Well, she wasn't exactly crazy about Bikram yoga at first. She came along with a friend to see if the yoga would heal the tendonitis in her shoulders and right hip. She says, "I had no idea it would be that HOT, but I survived." In another version of the story about her first class, Lucy considered asking her husband, who had picked her up, to drive away from the studio and never come back, but she'd paid for 2 weeks, and thought she should return to get her money's worth. Her commitment to Bikram yoga and eventual decision to do a 60-day challenge (60 yoga classes in 60 consecutive days) wasn't immediate: "When I first started going to yoga I ended up taking a break when we left town for a few months. I was supposed to come back middle of September, but didn’t come back until mid-November." Why the reluctance? Well, the class is hard and Lucy struggled with nausea. Using the will that has propelled her over the finish line of many a marathon, she continued coming to yoga. The next thing she knew, she was signing up for a year's membership. Then a 60-day challenge. Lucy, a little nonplussed describes her new-found commitment to yoga, "I guess you could say it ‘grew on me’." The kinds of benefits she has seen from a regular Bikram practice would certainly grow on anyone: she's built her overall strength, become more toned and her tendonitis is more manageable. "I lost 3 pounds while on my 60-day challenge, and my husband thinks I have toned up." Her increased strength is noticeable too, "at first my back was always sore after class; now it isn’t. I realize it’s because it is now much stronger." Many a Bikram practicioner notices that their hearing suddenly improves after a few months of regular yoga, and Lucy is no exception: "I remember well into my sessions, thinking one day 'WOW, this instructor really tells us a lot', only to then really listen and noted they all do! Was a funny realization to notice that I was finally starting to get a hang of this Bikram yoga thing!" Lucy feels good and is excited to see how her yoga practice (she used to shun stretching as an unexciting ancillary to her primary athletic goal; now she loves the feeling of accomplishment after every class) improves her running and cycling. It's obvious that this mom of two grown sons loves to challenge herself physically and mentally – Lucy recently completed two 30-day challenges back-to-back. She said her goal was to complete 62 classes in 60 days — one for each year of her life so far. It's hard to believe that the bubbly woman rocking her class and showing off her ripped abs in a bra top (a new development in her wardrobe that she claims won't be a daily event) is nearly a senior citizen. Lucy says her philosophy is to "regularly remind myself how lucky I am to be alive and able to do what I do each day." Although she tries to focus on the positive, she notes that life also throws curve balls: "I just lost my sister to cancer this January. It was a really hard year for my husband and I, as we were very involved in her care giving. Unfortunately she lost the battle, and we lost a great sister." She tries not to stress about what she can't change. And notes that eating well, enjoying life and maintaining her active lifestyle are things she are all positive things she can affect by making them a priority. "Everyone can make time for exercise…..you just need to want to do it. Bikram Yoga has made it easy with so many class times available. Does it tie up about two hours or more of your day? Yup. But so do long distance running and cycling – they take lots of hours of training. Going to the gym and taking zumba classes take time. All exercise takes time, but if you want to live healthy and be in good shape, you need to make the effort. Now that I am retired I have no excuses, I can fit in exercise every day, but even when I worked I managed to work out 4 to 5 days a week." In case it sounds like Lucy is completely disciplined and dedicated to good health, she thinks it's also important to focus on pleasure. "I also do try to eat fairly healthy five days a week; the other two are fun!!" She and her husband are off to Europe for six weeks this summer, for lots more fun. She plans on eating lots of great (both healthy and fun) things, but will really miss her yoga. We will miss Lucy in the studio, too. But we know she won't put off returning to yoga like she did after her last trip, and we this challenge-loving athlete will push herself on to greater accomplishments in yoga, perhaps a 100-day challenge...
You might have heard that "some people are born in a steel factory, and some people are born in a noodle factory," meaning some people are naturally strong but need help with flexibility, and some people are naturally flexible but need help to build strength.
It's clear from Katelynn's amazing back bend that this 25 year-old pastry chef was born in a noodle factory.
Another thing we hear in Bikram Yoga Class is that "this is not a cheesecake factory," meaning you have to work hard for the benefits this yoga practice brings.
Katelynn and her partner of three years, Deylan, probably weren't expecting to go to the Cheesecake factory when they went to their first class, but they still surprised. "We didn't know what Bikram yoga was the first time we tried it. We thought yoga was yoga was yoga. Not knowing the room was hot, Deylan and I both went in the room in pants and full shirts. If we didn't sign up for the 2 week trial, our first class would have been our last class."
Although she might not have loved it immediately, it didn't take long for her to realize how good this yoga is for body and mind. Along with Deylan, she also convinced 2 of her 7 siblings to try Bikram Yoga. Her friend Taryn credits Katelynn with motivating her to get to class and helping her to complete her 30-Day Challenge in March.
Katelynn has made some big changes in her life in the past 8 months, and credits Bikram yoga. Katelynn's work environment is no cheesecake factory either - working as a pastry chef for the Great Canadian Gaming Corp. can be stressful and demanding. Since she started yoga she has noticed that she handles stressful situations much better and has even quit smoking!
At this point, Katelynn can genuinely say that she loves Bikram yoga: "I love Bikram yoga because I'm forced to think about absolutely nothing but my practice when I'm in the room. An hour and a half of no stress!"
Sadly, Katelynn injured her shoulder very badly in another pursuit just 5 days before completing our most recent 30-day challenge. This didn't deter her for long, and she was back in class just four days later, healing her body naturally.