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Bikram Yoga Maple Ridge Student and Mom of the Month (May): Annick

Girls and mommyA 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!" IMG_0249Using 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.IMG_0241 "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! IMG_0542

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Bikram Yoga Langley Student & Mom of the Month (May): Lucy

chicago marathonEven 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.photo(9) 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.photo(10) 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...photo(8)

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Bikram Yoga Maple Ridge Student (soon to-be Teacher) of the Month (April): Marie

marie3A lot of you may know "Awesome Marie" from yoga class, she practices weekdays at Maple Ridge at 9:30 a.m. and on weekends "when I feel like it, if I'm not doing a challenge."

Marie is one of those special people who pretty much started off by doing a 30-day Challenge, but not for the reasons you might suspect. "I was one of those people who walked in off the street and bought a year membership," she recalls of her first Bikram experience shortly after she moved to Pitt Meadows from New Brunswick (and Newfoundland before that). She was continually thwarted in her efforts to make it to what should have been a close-by studio in Coquitlam by traffic congestion caused by construction. After a while, she gave up. "I had looked up the Langley studio, but never made it across the bridge. I thought $30 for something that might kill me was too much." Then facebook stepped in: Marie saw that Bikram Yoga Langley was going to be opening up a new studio in Maple Ridge (only a 7 minute drive away!) and would be offering a 30-day Challenge starting February 1st. She joined the challenge, she says, because it was a great deal. Who cares if she had to go to yoga every day? She wasn't going to have another membership she wasn't going to use! Marie first heard about Bikram yoga from a friend of her daughter's ballet teacher. Marie thought, "she is a crazy nuts and berries surfer chick; Bikram must be for people like that." Well, Marie is crazy about yoga, now! She's noticed weight loss (the diminutive Marie tends to lose 10 pounds each challenge) and softer skin. Having a husband who travels for work and two active children, one of the greatest benefits she's noticed is that she has way more energy. [caption id="attachment_530" align="alignleft" width="446"]marie & family Marie's first and most important love – her family[/caption] Marie loves yoga, but she also loves her family and her practice helps her to take better care of them. She has more energy and patience, if not time, and her awareness of her well-being nourishes them as well, "Life is different for everyone, it is like a domino effect: you do the yoga, so you think about what you put into your body more, and when you are the mom, and the person buying the food, it effects everyone." She sees the difference it has made not only in her life, but in so many people's lives from her perspective behind the front desk. "When you work the front desk, you see and hear a different side of the process: everyday you see the Mom who is barely holding it together, or the Grandpa who rocks every class. Both of them walk out of the room with the same glow of accomplishment." Marie knows how challenging it is to make time for yoga. "It is definitely a family effort. I am at the studio a lot, so the last year has been an adjustment." But, she insists, that "anyone can get on the mat and that if you want something bad enough you make it work." But wait, how did this stay at home mom go from Bikram yoga student, to staff? "I decided that Candice really wanted me to work for her on the front desk," Marie explains simply. [caption id="attachment_533" align="alignright" width="281"]marie4 "Psst. Am I your clone yet?"
Candice (left), Marie (right)[/caption] "I had a student once tell me that it was so nice that we have front desk staff who really care and are invested in the students, and that we (the front desk staff) are a part of their practice. That felt awesome to hear but, I thought, I can only imagine how a teacher must feel. Decision Made: I HAVE TO BE A TEACHER!" Marie says she might have day dreamed about becoming a teacher a year ago, at the start of her yoga journey, but now, with the support of her wonderful husband, extended family and home studio, it's happening. Although she claims she liked to imagine that one day she might go to teacher training, Marie had set her sights on this goal and pursued it in her typical straight forward manner. She confesses, "Okay, truthfully, I told Candice I wanted to be her clone. I even added to my employment contract that she would someday send me to teacher training and help me open a studio of my own!" Marie's goals for her practice, her life and her new role as a teacher are clear. "I want to be an AWESOME Teacher." And she vows to teach (awesomely, of course) wherever life and her husband's job may take her: "If there is not studio where I am, I'll open one." [caption id="attachment_535" align="alignleft" width="249"]marieAndMaya Marie and her yoga buddy/co-worker, Maya[/caption] Marie is inspired in all she does, including her new goal to be an awesome teacher by Bruce Mau's Incomplete Manifesto for Growth:"Process is more important than outcome. When the outcome drives the process, we will only ever go to where we’ve already been. If process drives outcome, we may not know where we’re going, but we will know we want to be there." On April 13th, Marie will leave to train with Bikram and his staff in L.A. She hopes to see everyone in her first class as a teacher here on June 17th! [caption id="attachment_534" align="alignleft" width="490"]MarieAndJordan Marie gets massage and support from co-worker, Jordan[/caption]

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