Yoga Story

BIKRAM YOGIS ANONYMOUS

Step 1 – Admittance: I am a Bikram yogi. I am continually in love with, healed by, and captivated with this addiction. It is an incessant influence, a time-consuming preoccupation, but predominantly worthwhile addiction. If it weren’t, I wouldn’t be here now, having the gift of a yoga studio where I get to share my passion for yoga with others and, hopefully, give them something that will also change their lives. But the journey has had its ups and downs. In fact, I’ve come full circle with the practice.

Myself and most anyone who has practiced the 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises that were taught to us Americans by the now-notorious Bikram Choudhury and his guru, Bishnu Ghosh, has likely experienced both love and hatred for this practice, and skepticism about its founder. But I’m not interested in talking about the man today; I want to talk about the practice. That journey through being broken down, built up, humbled, empowered, opened, closed off, stretched, compressed, emptied out, filled up, never-the-same-again yoga revelation. Bikram was the first and only kind of yoga I knew for the first 8 years of practicing.

My feelings about this style over more than a decade range from “I can barely get through a class” to “I can still barely get through a class.” The challenge never changes. It is always hard, physically and mentally. Yes, over 10 years or longer, it never gets easier. But it does become different.

My original teacher was explaining how a posture works and said, “when you’re a beginner – you know, the first 10 years of practice…” Wait, WHAT? …. You’re a beginner for the first TEN years? I laughed in my head when I heard him say that because I considered myself at least intermediate-level by that point – but now, after 10 years, I’m beginning to understand.

There have been, and will be, many seasons of my Bikram journey – times when I hated Pranayama breathing (the first breathing exercise), another when I was tediously impatient in Half Moon, periods when I am in love with Standing Bow, and seasons when I deeply dreaded Camel. There are times when I fall from a posture and an unexplainable flood of tears comes to my eyes, and there are times when I laugh out loud. There are times when the postures hurt and times when the postures heal.

Step 2 – Faith: It was this last part of the journey that has really challenged me over the last four years. I had an injury. An un-diagnosable pain in my right hip. I went to all the doctors, physical therapists, Rolfers, acupuncturists and chiropractors. Finally, I took a break. I took a break from yoga for two months. It was something I thought I would never do. I had practiced for nine years, at least five to seven times a week. I rarely missed a day; sometimes I would even do two classes a day. Then I remember the day, as I was laying in savasana, feeling defeated from the pain and the lack of mobility that I once had, I realized that it wasn’t fun anymore, so I decided right at that moment, I would let it go… for a while anyway.

When I came back to the mat, I approached everything very carefully. Every posture. I made sure to really keep my core engaged and not overdo it in postures just to look a certain way. It felt a lot better but the hip was still not fully recovered. I started back in just a couple times a week and eventually added different yoga disciplines – vinyasa power flow and eventually Buti yoga. The new practices and new postures opened up certain areas and strengthened others. It turned out to be the perfect complement to my Bikram yoga practice, and I began to realize that the answer was, as Bikram himself would prescribe, “more yoga.” Well, not exactly… first I needed a break and then I needed more yoga, and different kinds of yoga. The thing about the 26 postures is that it is a lot of repetition, and if you are not careful or practicing with proper form with muscular support, then the repetition can be hard on certain joints. The bikram dialogue is designed to ensure that you do practice the postures correctly but, depending on your skeletal structure, your joints and the stress your life may have brought them thus far, there is the potential for repeated stress to occur and even potential injury.

Although I now have a love and appreciation for many different styles of yoga, I have an even stronger faith in Bikram yoga and a deeper appreciation for it. For all my ups and downs with the practice, I have always admired this elegant series – these 26 postures and the brilliance of their sequencing. The heat, the mirrors, the dialogue, they are added tools, which all work together to force out any opportunity for outside distraction. We are truly forced to concentrate and given the opportunity to be fully present. There’s really nothing else we can do. Just yesterday during a class, the dialogue made more sense than it ever had. Same words I’ve heard a thousand times but they were once again new to me. The words were all I heard… my mind was blank but for these words: “PUSH your stomach, hips thighs forward!” I did so, and it worked. Another layer stripped away. In final savasana, I had peace in my mind about something I’d been worried about all day. It wasn’t the first time these things had happened. They can happen any and every time we practice this series. No matter how many years we’ve practiced this yoga series, there is always something to learn, and it will always be a great accomplishment to finish the class.

So far, in my first 10 years as a beginner of bikram yogi, I have learned some of the greatest lessons and habits of my life. Habits that have helped me through every scenario – heartbreak, anxiety, worry, opening businesses, friendships, and marriage. I wanted to share just a few of these with you:

  • If you can, you must (Bikram Choudhury).
  • Don’t react or attach to the pain or the victory. Calmly observe it and let it pass by so you can give your full energy to the present.
  • Let nothing steal your peace. (Bikram Choudhury)
  • Don’t waste your energy on the things you cannot change.
  • Transcend discomfort by sitting with it, allowing it to be part of you as you move with it until it is no longer there.
  • If you are trying correctly, even if only able to do just a small step of the full posture, you will receive 100% of the benefits.

YOU’VE GOT TO GO THERE TO GET THERE

By Eleanor Self

My yoga story is still mostly ahead of me, but this is the story of just getting to that first class.

A wise woman once said, “You’ve gotta go there to get there.” Actually, the wise woman was Hannah, and if you’ve been in her class, you know she’s said that WAY more than once. But it’s true. If where you want to be is not where you are, then the only way to get to where you want to be is to go. Go there – the place you want to be. That applies to life in general as well as yoga. You’ve gotta go there to get there.

But on the way to going there and getting there, you will encounter obstacles. There will be detours and there will be some points along the journey where you just can’t seem to get there from here. Sometimes those points are in your own head.

That’s where I was in November of 2013, stuck at a point at which I just couldn’t get there, stuck in my own head. I wanted to start a yoga practice, but it was way too scary for me – just walking into a yoga class with no idea what to expect. I was sure everyone would resent my presence, and I was more than sure that the anxiety I would endure would be more miserable, more tormenting than anything thing that could happen on the mat.

Just to try to get some familiarity, I booked a private lesson with Brooke. My plan was to start going to group classes right away. But that “right away” turned into a year and a half.

The road to starting a regular practice was a lot more twisted than the few blocks straight up Gallatin Pike. Many times I tried to go back for a class but was overwhelmed by the feelings that I didn’t deserve to do it, that I clearly didn’t belong there, and I would ruin it for everyone else by just being there. You name it, I thought it, and over and over, I let it shut me down.

Here are some of the road closures I found in my own head and the detours I took to get around:

“You know how you get lost – even places you’ve been before. If you try to go you won’t even find it.” I started driving the route home from work that takes me by the studio. I would make a point to look at the building to prove to myself I knew where it was. I pulled into the parking lot from time to time to prove to myself I could find it consistently.

“You’re too scared. If you do go, you’ll just have a crippling stomachache and you won’t be able to do anything.” I started visiting the HYEN website. I posted questions on a local listserve to see if anyone had been there and what they had to say about it. I Googled Hot Yoga of East Nashville and just looked at reviews and anything I could in an attempt to reduce the strangeness and curb the jitters. The web perusing didn’t help a lot, but I did find that awesome unlimited 30-day Groupon.

“You will be so conspicuous walking across that parking lot. You don’t even know how to carry your stuff.” I made it my business to find out how to carry my stuff. I Googled “celebrities going to yoga” just in case there were pictures of famous people walking into yoga class. There are. Starlets and reality notables seem to favor holding a rolled mat or towel in the crook of one arm with a water bottle in that same hand and then keys or phone in the opposite hand. I did a trial run in the kitchen to see if I could do that. I could.

“The other customers will hate you. Thin, healthy people don’t even want to look at someone who is out of shape and overweight. If you go, they will all be mad at you for ruining their day.” Through this whole time, the same quote seemed to pop up everywhere “What other people think of you is none of your business.” Over the course of that year and half, life peppered me with that quote. If I turned on the TV someone said it. If I checked Facebook it was posted in a cute little frame. I overheard it in conversations, saw it printed everywhere. Eventually, I believed it. I stopped trying to be responsible for the happiness of people who don’t even know me, but might be more content if I don’t cross their sightline.

“Maybe someday.” By June of 2015, the expiration on the Groupon was still far in the distance, but I joined a weight loss and fitness challenge which required 30 minutes a day of physical activity. I tried going for walks around the neighborhood, but I was just too scared to keep it up. Inside the yoga studio was the only place that seemed safe enough, and offered the accountability of the challenge, which meant I had to do it now.

I gathered up my stuff to go to yoga, but a couple of steps from the door I was overwhelmed by the negative thoughts and just lost all energy. I kept repeating this attempt for a few days. I started feeling like I needed to give my son some sort of explanation for the behavior he was seeing. I told him, “ I want to go to yoga but some days I feel too afraid and some days I feel too depressed.” He did what was probably the best thing he could have: he gave me a pleasant but puzzled, “why are you telling me this?” look as if what he was seeing wasn’t actually even crazy.

I decided I would keep making this attempt over and over. I would keep going to the door, or to the car, or a block down the road, as far towards a yoga class as I could, as many times as it took because, surely, this would not go on forever. Through the end of 2013, all of 2014 and the first half of 2015, small pieces had fallen into place and I really felt like any minute there would be some great positive inspiration that would boost me out the door. Unexpectedly, it was one really bad day that finally did it.

June 16, 2015 was a really horrible day at work – upsetting and just miserable. I felt depressed and hopeless as I began my commute. I went through my routine of attempting to go to yoga with no expectation that this day would net any more progress than usual. I headed for the front door, bracing for the wave of negativity to hit and shut me down. It didn’t happen. I already felt about as bad as I could, and in a strange way that protected me from feeling any worse. I reached the door, went through it and kept on going until I made it inside a yoga class.

Yes, I did feel just as conspicuous crossing the parking lot and in the class as I expected to, but I had finally made it there! And it was worth it. I made it through the 90 minutes of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises. I noted feeling a sense of accomplishment. It wasn’t easy, but it felt good to conquer my fears, cancel out the worries, and cross all of the obstacles to get there. And I kept coming back.

The physical changes I’ve experienced have been remarkable. By the time my Groupon was used up I was hooked. I had started the month exhausted and in pain from my forehead to my feet. Now, all my aches and pains were resolving and I felt strength and energy building.

Turns out my worries of not being accepted were unfounded; people were either friendly, or engrossed in their own practice, mostly friendly. After a few classes I began to understand what “group energy” meant and to feel like I was a valuable contribution to the whole.

I’m finding the yoga practice itself not to be unlike the process it took to get here. The growth happens in the repeated failures, which afford me the opportunity to show myself grace and start again… over and over until the failures don’t feel like failures at all. They’re just opportunities to practice. Sometimes the process feels really good, sometimes it really doesn’t. Often the things that don’t feel good, mentally and physically, are what move me forward.

I’ve heard so many great quotes from all the yoga teachers, too many to list them all, but I started with one of the first things I heard Hannah say and I’ll end with a recent one from Adam, “Don’t let your final expression be you bailing on the pose!”

The reward is not really in the final success, but in the stubborn, continual trying.

By |December 10th, 2015|Yoga Story|0 Comments

MY YOGA STORY – WENDY WESTMORELAND

From my previous entry, Breath is Life: My first Bikram yoga class was in Feb. 2002, and I became certified by Bikram to teach in June 2006. Yoga teaches me daily (on and off the mat) concepts like discipline, determination, concentration, faith, patience, strength, flexibility, balance … really, all just other words for “awareness.” For me, the most important lesson is to breathe. Yoga teaches me to breathe in what I need and breathe out what I don’t.

Breath Is Life part 2

For me, yoga just kind of “showed up.” During the same week in 2002, I had three different friends on three separate occasions tell me about a “new” yoga they discovered. It was called “Bikram.” A 90-minute class, it was practiced in a HOT room, with humidity. It was the same 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises, done in the same order every time. I had never been to a yoga class. I was curious about the yoga, but mostly intrigued by the coincidence.

My first class was like so many others’ – I was hot, I sweat more than I thought humanly possible, I was nauseous, I was exhausted, I was overwhelmed. Despite all of that, I distinctly remember looking around and feeling, rather than seeing, that the other people in class knew something that I didn’t know. I wanted to know what they knew. So, I went back. By my third class, I was hooked. I went another 3 times the next week, then 4 times the next week, 5 times the week after that. By the end of my first month, I had signed up for the 60-day challenge; 6 days a week for 10 weeks. Holy cow, what a challenge! The deep detoxification process revealed something I was not previously aware of. It was anger, massive amounts of anger. I would twitch, and itch and scratch, and toss and turn. I would do anything I could to avoid feeling what I was feeling. I had never felt so much anger and it scared me. I worried. What if I scream? What if I explode? What if I yell AT someone?! I would panic and hold my breath. Fortunately, I had very patient, kind, observant AND firm teachers. They would tell me “Wendy, breathe”. They would remind me, “you have a choice; you can panic and head down the road of emotion or you can breathe and let that energy go.” E-motion is literally energy in motion, after all.

Fast-forward to July 10, 2005. I was rounding out three years of solid practice. I was averaging 5 classes a week. I’d completed two additional 60-day challenges during that time. I’d attended 3 posture clinics and even spent a weekend in L.A. with Bikram and 1,500 other crazy yogis at the Yoga Expo. The practice had changed my life, cleaned me out, and I had my sights on teacher training.

Then came a day that I will never forget. I was in my home office, working on a project. I heard a loud buzzing sound. I thought it was coming from my computer. When I stood up to look behind the monitor, I was hit with a wave of vertigo. I felt dizziness so intense that I fell to the floor immediately. This is where my memory gets spotty. I know I felt exceptionally disoriented, but also felt a strong need to get to my bedroom. I tried getting up, but my body wouldn’t work. I couldn’t get my arms or my legs to move. Somehow, I managed to stumble and fumble and crawl to my bedroom. When I reached my bedroom, I collapsed, thinking “this is good enough.” My roommate was home at the time. I heard him come out of his bedroom and I tried to yell for him. My mouth wouldn’t work. No words would come out. No sound would come out. I couldn’t use my tongue. I kept trying to make noise but all I could produce was a quiet little buzzing breath, not even “haaaaaa.” I laid there, basically immobile. I listened to him walk down the stairs, pick up his keys, walk out the door, start his car and drive away. I still had no idea what was happening to/with me but I also knew it wasn’t good. All I could think was “I’m alone.” I could feel panic rising in my chest, up through my throat. A voice came to me “breathe” and I inhaled. “Breathe” and I exhaled. “Breathe” and I remembered my yoga classes. “Breathe” and I remembered all that anger. “Breathe” and I remembered all the panic. “Breathe” and I remembered I had a choice. “Breathe” and I chose to breathe. And then I passed out or fell asleep – I’ll never know.

I don’t know how long I was out, but when I woke up, I couldn’t see. My eyes were crossed and blurry. Half of my face was numb and limp. Most of my limbs were like boneless chickens – flimsy. Long story a little shorter: I managed to knock my phone off my side table. I called my friend using my nose. I made vague words and strange grunting noises curious enough that she decided to come over. After medical attention, I found out I had a stroke. After extensive testing, I found out it was the likely result of a birth defect. I had a hole in my heart. Days went by and I had limited control of the left side of my body. I lost a significant portion of peripheral vision on my left side as well.

At the time, I could not explain why but I felt that an integral part of my healing would happen in the hot room. I insisted that I go there. I called in favors, asking friends to drop me off and take me home. The lack of balance and mobility did not stop me. There was little that I could actually do. I was convinced, however, that I needed to get blood to my head as soon, as often, and as much as possible. Not just any ol’ blood either. I wanted fresh, oxygenated blood. I knew the most effective way to do that was with that series of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises. I became particularly aware of any and all postures that gave me the benefit of head-below-the-heart. I focused most of my attention on those postures. I was diligent, making sure I was breathing before, during and after each posture. My brain depended on it.

Over time, moving at my own pace but with consistent practice, my coordination returned. I was also able to reduce the size of the blind spot on my left side. I had a talk with my neurologist and told her the story of that day. She later commented that it was highly likely that my choice to breathe in those critical moments saved my life. Hearing her say that convinced me that I had to find a way to get to teacher training, sooner or later. I remain convinced that part of the reason I am still on this planet is to pass along the message of how important it is to learn the power of your own breath.

The hole in my heart is fixed. I now have titanium plugging it up. That’s another story for another day/blog/post. It’s a good thing I live in Nashville – Music City. Eventually, I will write a song about a titanium heart.

By |October 12th, 2015|Yoga Story|2 Comments

MY YOGA STORY – LESLIE HINSON

One of the most consistent themes throughout my arts education was Creation from Chaos. Out of the debris left over from trauma or turmoil or pain rises the universally desired phoenix: art. Art is a response to the suffering related with the human condition. Once all of our problems are solved, we will be so comfortable on our fluffy pillows and piles of money that we’ll lose that friction that strikes the match of inspiration. Right?

In college, as I began to grow into my adult personality, I struggled with a strange dichotomy: a naturally Type-B personality coupled with a newfound perfectionism. I have always been a person who could easily become obsessed with a subject or activity, such as listening to the same song 40 times in a row or reading the same book every few months, but my obsessions had never manifested into diligence. Somehow I became addicted to making 100% on every assignment. Not A’s. 100% specifically. That takes many, many hours of memorization. So I became obsessively diligent about my schoolwork, and a whole mess of issues ensued. I worried. I didn’t sleep. I became extremely anxious and thought I had every disease I ever heard about. At the same time, I was more creatively inspired than ever before.

I had heard of yoga before, but resources were limited in central Alabama. The only experience I had with it was doing a beginner’s yoga DVD with my dad when I was in high school. I remember the instructor (Rodney Yee) saying, “Relax your eyes…” in a very chill voice, which sent us both into a fit of giggles. How could you relax your eyes?!

One day during my sophomore year of college, my music theory professor announced that his wife would start leading a twice-a-week yoga class that would be free to students. It sounded like something I needed, so I went. It was literally right next to the pool in the gym. I was surrounded by the sounds of gasping, arms and legs slapping the water surface, my mat was peppered with droplets from a rogue kick and all I could do was make to-do lists in my head, but somehow, I felt better after 45 minutes of just being on my mat. I started allotting myself two hours a week for yoga. I knew immediately that I wanted to be a teacher, and before doing any other yoga besides the poolside class, I began to offer short yoga classes to my fellow theatre students. I would work at the coffee shop from 5:30-8:30 AM, then go to the theatre building to teach yoga on stage from 9:00-9:30 before our classes started. I loved teaching and looked forward to it constantly, even though it only happened once a week or so.

As the benefits began to emerge, I worried. What if finding peace from my snowballing thoughts kept me from being struck with the lightning bolt of inspiration? Some of my best writing happened when I was pacing my apartment at 3 AM.

I pocketed that fear and went on to graduate and moved to Chicago the very next day. The city was cold and grinding, so naturally, my artistic life was thriving. I immediately started doing improv at The Second City, joined a comedy team, and started playing keyboards in a band. Life was as hectic as I thought it should be, and yoga was a tiny memory by then.

I noticed a consistent steeling of myself against other people. Maybe it was the North frosting me over or maybe it was the fact that I was still slinging coffee for a living, but I began resisting having meaningful interactions with most people. I became paranoid and hyper-vigilant, even to the point of thinking that coworkers were conspiring against me. My insomnia increased. Having anxiety or panic attacks was part of a normal week. I threw myself into ridiculously strict diet patterns. I worked, went to rehearsal, went to band practice, and watched a lot of movies on Netflix instead of sleeping. That was the way life was supposed to be. It pretty much sucks, and then you create something.

Erika (my bandmate and now roommate) called one day and invited me to take a free week of yoga with her at a studio in the South Loop. I went. Long story short, we were both hooked. We did a work/trade to keep going to yoga after our free weeks ended. I was not strong or flexible at all, so the flow classes proved to be a huge disappointment for me. I started with Hot 26, which was difficult yet attainable. I remember the first time I found my own eyes in the mirror during Tree and saw that my face was hardened. I softened my jaw and relaxed my eyes. Ah ha, then. Thanks for planting that seed, Mr. Yee, even though it took me 7 years to understand you.

I started sleeping better (i.e. actually sleeping). I started softening towards other people. I began to hear between the lines when someone spoke to me. This was the first thing that made me realize I was becoming a better artist. I noticed more. I was able to see bigger pictures. My writing seemed more cohesive and infinitely more relatable. I really felt like I was moving back into my childhood home in a good way. I was returning to a sense of self that had been gone from me for a long time. By losing my me-against-the-world mindset, I was allowing myself to truly experience unbridled joy and honest gratitude once again.

Later, I would come to understand my problem as being an imbalance of the ayurvedic dosha vata. When someone has too much vata, he or she becomes cold and anxious, is prone to insomnia and paranoia, and is very scattered.

I took Abnormal Psychology this summer to fulfill a prerequisite requirement for the graduate school program I will soon be applying to. Basically, there is a widespread notion that artists are crazy, and that the craziest people make the most brilliant art. However, that is not actually the case. To sum it up, while a person who has a psychological or emotional disorder may create more artistic output when in a state of disturbance, the quality of the output is inferior to the work that same artist does when he or she is stable.

Now I see the importance of balance. I see the importance of what we refer to as “your edge.” Recognizing your edge and staying close to it is an important concept to growing in your yoga practice on the mat, but off the mat it translates into the choices you make. Living close to your edge means that you are constantly reassessing what works and what doesn’t work. You are changing, growing, strengthening, welcoming challenge, and thereby welcoming change. Diligence, while certainly a virtue, is also a part of balance. You can overdo diligence to a point of just setting fancy rules and not really listening to yourself.

Now, I am very much looking forward to reentering the world of academia with a little more self-awareness and a few more tools under my belt. The thought of taking a giant leap deeper into my understanding in my field of study is exciting, not daunting. I have a loose plan for the future, but I don’t really know what it will hold. What I do know is that I will forever be a student of yoga.

By |October 5th, 2015|Yoga Story|0 Comments

MY YOGA STORY – BROOKE ASBURY

How did I get here?

It was a rainy, grey morning, as usual come mid-November in Seattle. I was looking out the window from the warmth of my blanket cocoon on the couch, contemplating the 9-mile run I had planned for the morning. I was training for some-such marathon or half marathon, and I had just about reached the end of my self-motivation rope. My “no excuses” policy for my running schedule was just wanting to be broken so badly that morning. Meanwhile, my roommate Amber bounced down the hallway in her yoga gear. “Wanna come to Hot, Steamy Yoga?” She never called it just “Hot Yoga.” Always, “Hot, Steamy Yoga.” Well, the answer in my head was “No,” I had never once in my life even considered that hot yoga thing. It sounded like torture. I could torture myself with running but not heat. She then said, “My aunt did hot, steamy yoga for a month, and she had such a bangin’ bod afterwards. It burns like a thousand calories each class.” SOLD! She said the magic words. Burns calories… approximately equivalent to what I would have burned running 9 miles. It was settled, I would trade in my run for the hot, sweaty yoga class, avoid the rain, and come out even.

I don’t remember that much of the class. I don’t remember it being that difficult or even that hot. I remember the teacher. He was a gentle giant. Robert – salt and pepper hair, tiny spandex shorts and a hairy chest. I still take Robert’s class whenever I’m in Seattle. He has the kindest eyes, the calmest voice, and you just know that he wants you to be at ease – in his studio, in your body, in life. He always knows the new student’s name and always encourages them throughout their first class. Well, anyhow, I made it to final savasana. The heat didn’t do me in, and I didn’t feel that different after class but what left a strong impression on me was the teacher and the other students. I’ll never forget their unwavering focus for 90 minutes of energy and sweat, their forearm veins in final expression of Standing Forehead to Knee, their quiet reverence for the practice as they entered and exited the room. I thought about it later that day, and the day after that, and so on… I found myself back in that unique-smelling, carpeted room the following week. I just HAD to try it again. Maybe someday I could be like those other people.

Ten years later, it still has me. There is just nothing else like it. Like an old friend inviting you in for some tea and a chat. Nothing else like this series can transform my mind from chaos to calm in just 90 minutes. To change my outlook on a problem from frustration to patience. To broaden my perspective. To forgive someone. To see the answer I needed to find. I’ve said this before but I think that all of the important decisions in my life, I’ve made during a Bikram yoga class. Well, that or while running. Sure, my body has been transformed too. For the first year that I practiced, I could not bring my foot up any higher than my calf for tree pose. I can’t really even remember who I was, how I looked before this yoga but I think I can safely say that it has refined every bit of my being “inside out, bones to skin,” and especially my mind and heart.

My teachers at Bikram Yoga Seattle were a constant inspiration. Their practices – so elegant, their teaching – so brilliant, their presence – strong and calm. I wanted to be like them. I wanted to be one of them. If I was lucky enough to get to the studio early and have their attention before other students showed up, I would ask them about their Teacher Training. One of them said, “After training, I felt like I could do anything.” I was inspired. Maybe a bit covetous to have that feeling. I would go to the internet and explore the Bikram website and dream of applying for the training. It didn’t seem feasible though. When would I fit it in? How could I afford it? I couldn’t leave my boyfriend for 2 months. Ridiculous thoughts like that.

Well, a boyfriend less later, and a Christmas bonus richer, I found myself applying to a teacher training. It wasn’t the Bikram training that I’d always wanted to do, but it happened to be in this place, Nashville, which I had an irrational dream of moving to.

The training was uneventfully completed (I kept it a secret from my work so there was no announcing of things on Facebook during that time), and I had been slowly dreaming up the idea to open a studio in East Nashville. Though it made no sense to leave a perfectly great life in Seattle, a friend one day told me, “If anyone can do it, you can.” I knew it was true. My yoga had taught me that already. So, here I am.