“The way to reverse downward spiral is to agree that the human body is the temple of the living Spirit”
- Bikram Choudhury
When I was asked to share story behind my personal commitment to Bikram Yoga 360 my first reaction was - absolutely not! “No” to sharing my life, my pain, and my struggles along the way; “no” to sharing my sweat, “no” to sharing my wins either – “just let me be!”
Then I had time to think. Along the way I was not alone. There has been support and encouragement. Compassion. Guidance. Honest feedback. Challenge to tap the potential. So, my journey towards healing isn’t only mine, but it is shared with the entire team from Langley studio.
But, I am getting ahead of myself. For you to understand what I am talking about I need to tell you a short story:
"It was early fall, year before Olympics in Vancouver. She has been working non-stop getting business ready, not only for the once in a lifetime event, but also for the new leadership in the company she worked for. She overestimated her stamina and strength – and she had a work related accident that left her with shoulder, arm and spine marked for the rest of her life. Oh, she was thankful - she had a brilliant surgeon who probably saved her arm and put everything back together. After months of therapy, she went back to work. A year and half after the first surgery, she had the second surgery, hoping that the constant pain in her arm and shoulder gets better. It didn’t. That was when she first tried Bikram Yoga 360.
The fact is, she didn’t care enough about herself to take time and keep up with the classes. She didn’t care enough about herself to honor promises she made Pressures at work and life in general swallowed up her resolutions and a downward spiral began. In order to get through the day, and sometimes night, painkillers became a good friend. She didn’t pay enough attention to her body and spirit to realize she desperately needed to stop this downward spiral, to do a U-turn in order to start the healing process.
Then events took place late last year at work: restructuring in the company. She got the gift of time; she decided to do something about her well-being. So, she took a trip to Europe and tried European Spas with all the prescribed treatments. Yes, she did get temporary relief after electric injections, massages, ultrasounds and all the mineral water she drank and soaked herself in. But, in May this year she ended in doctor’s office in tears asking him to help her get rid of the pain. X-rays showed arthritis in the shoulder and middle spine, with more bone test required. She got a strong pain prescription and dose of reality: “this is pretty much it; not much we can do outside to control the pain when needed.”
After digesting doctor’s message she pulled out Bikram Choudhury’s Yoga book and didn’t stop reading until she finished the book. On June 1st she finally made the U-turn and turned her health around by joining her first yoga class.” "
“It is never too late, it is never too bad and you are never too old or too sick to start from scratch again”
- Bikram Choudhury
You probably have lots of questions. Yes, I would have them too. So go ahead and ask.
How are you doing today – after 4 months?
ZV: I can move my arm beyond what I hoped I would be able to do. Yes, I will always feel pain – but today it is manageable and most of the time without painkillers.
How was your first class and classes that followed?
ZV: I didn’t leave during the first class … that was an accomplishment. Classes that followed were hard work filled with pain. Sometimes the pain was so bad, I remember during Savasana I had tears running down my cheeks and the only though I had was: ‘thank goodness I am sweating so nobody can see them.’
How often do you practice?
ZV: Every day – unless I am out of town or have commitments not allowing time for practice.
What brought you to Bikram Yoga in the first place?
ZV: After I was told physiotherapy will no longer improve the mobility. I talked with my doctor, who actually condoned a yoga workout.
How does your family feel about your new found focus in your life?
ZV: My daughter is 100% supportive, being yoga practitioner herself. She is smart, strong, independent 30 year-old woman that gives her mother every reason not to only love her unconditionally, but to be very proud of her as well. (Having a 30 year-old child should tell you how old I am! Ha-ha!)
What have you learned that you consider most important since June 1st?
ZV: The most important truth I have learned is this: we all make time for what is important to us. Going forward I will always have time for myself, for my well-being.”
What are your goals for the future?
ZV: My goal is to keep challenging myself – and keep getting challenged – so my body will keep repairing what still can be repaired, so it will keep getting stronger and more and more in tune with the spirit within.
What would you like to say as the closing?
ZV: I’d like to leave you with the quote below:
“You don’t have to change the world; just change yourself, and you will surely inspire the world to follow.”
- Bikram Choudhury
September 24th, 2014
Brielle is adamant that she would not have imagined herself doing Bikram yoga only a few years ago. “I would have not attended any type of class, accompanied or alone.” Somehow, her best friend Emily convinced Brielle to try one class: “right away, I knew it was a key to happiness,” she exclaims.
Brielle describes her first class, a 60-minute express class, as “intense, motivating and very fun”. Prior to this class, she wasn’t sure what might lie in store for her, so she did some research and discovered stories of people healing mind and body through their Bikram yoga practice. Brielle counts the calming effect of the yoga among the greatest healing benefits she has experienced, “Bikram yoga has helped me all-around with anxiety. That really benefits any activities I do throughout the day.”
Brielle certainly has a lot of other activities, in addition to her job at Smile Thai Cuisine and an eco-friendly cleaning service, to keep her busy. She enjoys camping, hiking, outdoor reading and open-air yoga. She is also interested in sustainable living. Integrating her lifestyle and yoga is one of her goals, “My goals in life are to be healthy, happy and grounded. In terms of goals with yoga, I aim to keep learning and keep practicing. I also wish to take classes to learn the history of yoga.” Brielle’s statement about her future career aspirations project an image of easy-going confidence, “I am not sure what I would like to do for a career path, but I am positive that it will fall into place and tie into all that I stand for and wish for the world.”
This is a far cry from the anxious, sleep-deprived person Brielle admits to being before Bikram yoga: “Bikram Yoga continues to help me with my fight or flight response to things in life. It also really helps me get to sleep. I used to wake up often in the night, or simply not be relaxed enough to fall asleep. Going to a Bikram class always helps me get a good night’s rest.”
Rising early and starting the day with fresh juiced fruits and vegetables is part of Brielle’s Bikram yoga routine. However, she also gives credit to her mom, for not letting her slack off. “My beautiful mother, Rose, is constantly telling me that she is proud and happy that I continue with Bikram, because she noticed the changes as quickly as I did. Whenever I say that I'm tired or make excuses to miss a class, she reminds me of all of the positive outcomes and that when I’m done, I will thank myself for going. That usually gets me out the door!”
Daily growth, improvement and positivity are other factors that motivate Brielle to come to class. “There is always room to grow and improve. I also very much enjoy the people. The teachers, as well as the students, are all so kind and encouraging. I am always leaving with a smile on my face.”
We look forward to seeing Brielle’s smiling face in many, many more classes.
When recalling the first Bikram yoga, Bind says, "I knew my experience was unique. I knew that I wanted to do this. I was surprised and impressed by other people's flexibility – I thought, ‘Oh, my God, they are so flexible.’”
So what did Bind think of the yoga practice? “I liked it so much!” She remembers doing her best to keep up with the class, but looking back she cringes at how many things she had wrong. However, the chance to keep trying and keep improving is one of the things that Bind likes about the practice: “Day by day, I realize my mistakes. Every teacher explains things a little differently, and every day you learn a little bit. It’s been a year and a half, and I’m still learning.” She adds, “I never thought that I could do those postures and be so flexible. Now I can do everything!”
“You are skinny; why are you doing that?” is what Bind often hears from her family members about her Bikram yoga practice. “If you are skinny, people always ask questions,” she elaborates. “But, they say I’m doing awesome.” “I didn’t actually want to lose weight. I just wanted to be more flexible and it’s helped me a lot.” The health benefits she’s experienced are amazing. “I had migraine problems, and now they are gone. I had a pain in my shoulders – it’s gone, totally!” Bind has also noticed that she has more confidence and her spine is stronger, so she can sit for long periods of time.
Bind, a 30-year old barista, stresses the benefits of the spiritual side of her Bikram practice as well. “I’m into spirituality, so I like the connection between body, mind and soul. It calms me so much. I’m more focused at work. I’m more calm and don’t react. I take it all easily, and go with the flow.”
Bind sees both the physical and mental benefits of her Bikram practice in her meditation practice. “I just did the vipassana 10 days (a disciplined meditation where talking, making eye contact and physical yoga are not allowed) – some people might want to bolt, but for me it was fine. Bikram yoga has made me disciplined.” Setting an intention and mastering your body even when you want to give up are skills that many people don’t have, but Bind noticed she had developed. “When you go to meditation, you have to sit for one hour with closed eyes, and stay in one position. I set my mind to it and made it through easily.”
This same discipline helps Bind stick to her 5 class per week Bikram schedule. How does she motivate herself to get to class, even on days when she’s tired? “It's just my daily routine. I don’t give myself an option.” She adds, “It’s all in your mind.”
Bind’s goals for her practice include wanting to become a Bikram yoga teacher. “I don’t know how long it’s going to take, but that’s my goal.” She clarifies that she wants to go deeper into the practice for herself, not to make money from teaching.
It is clear from talking with her that Bind understands her practice as a way to challenge herself and connect with other people – both excellent qualities in a teacher. When asked about her favourite part of her Bikram practice, Bind does not hesitate, “I like how people share energy together.”
We hope to see Bind teaching at our studio one day. For as many great things as there are to say about her, she has lots of compliments for our studio, its variety, cleanliness and service. “It’s a great studio. I’m lucky that I’m practicing at this studio.”