Why did you start practicing Bikram yoga and how long have you been practicing?
I started practicing yoga later in my life (in my 30s) for a number of reasons; my mom had taken me to a hatha yoga class when I was in grade school and while I was terrible at it, I loved the savasana at the end and it planted a seed in me that told me I would need and love yoga later on in my life. Later, in my 20s, I was living in Park Slope, swimming at the nearby branch of the Y for an hour a day which I loved, however when I moved to Prospect Heights in 2003, the Y was inconvenient to get to regularly. One day I walked into the Flatbush Bikram studio, and I just loved it immediately. I enjoy all kinds of yoga but at that time, my wrists were very weak and downward dog was painful; the Bikram method was great because it didn’t have that. The Flatbush studio was close to where I lived and it’s always been important that my workout place be nearby otherwise, I know I won’t go.
How has your practice affected your life?
I like to say that it cures suicidal tendencies (and homicidal ones, too!). But seriously, this yoga method really is wonderful for putting things in perspective and clearing your mind and body of interference, negative thoughts, and general worry. Also, as a musician, I use my body a lot and I find the practice to be essential as a restorative therapy for holding your arms up asymmetrically with an instrument that weighs 8 pounds around your neck for 6 hours a day.
What keeps you coming back for more?
I always feel better after class, no matter how the class itself goes. If I’m worried or confused about something in my life and I can’t stop worrying about it and trying to figure it out, I notice that after class, even though nothing has changed, I feel more confident and empowered to keep working to figure out a positive solution. Also, I really like the community of people at the Lefferts studio, which I still go to even though now it’s a mile and a half away.
Do you have any advice/insight for new yogis?
The main advice I have for new yogis is to breathe, listen, and be patient. Most importantly, do not force postures; if you cannot maintain your calm breath, then leave a posture out and stand in mountain savasana. Breathe and stay as still as possible. Our tendency in this competitive world is to only hear the teacher when they say, “push”, but not hear them tell us to maintain calm and focused breath. I often see new students huffing and dramatically trying to make every pose and I want to tell them that I’ve “candy-assed” my way through some classes, only doing one set of every posture because I’m too tired or sick and at the end, as long as I maintained a calm focus on my breath, I will still feel as great as if I’d “kicked butt” on every posture.