Teacher Story: Katia

What tips can you give students to support their practice off the mat?
Just basic stuff: drink plenty of water, eat a high-quality diet, and sleep 7 hours every night.

What lead you to teacher training?
I knew pretty early on–during my second class–that one day I would teach this method.

Dealing with personal injury
After I stopped dancing ballet, I discovered that my skeletal system was quite twisted, and that my hips were constantly inflamed, a situation that has never quite resolved completely. Bikram Yoga helps me to manage this condition by realigning and creating more space in my joints, increasing the blood flow there and making my body feel better.

Is there anything you’d like to tell us about your teaching style or philosophy?
I teach from a perspective of believing that it is an honor to be standing in front of people who are allowing me to guide them through their yoga for 90 minutes. It’s my responsibility to give a challenging class while at the same time keeping it light emotionally. In addition to inspiring the students, I have discovered that I must find something different to teach or emphasize each and every class. We have many practitioners who have challenges such as injuries, different conditions, or perhaps recovering from surgery; I use my medical experience to help them practice safely, and in turn, working with them helps me to understand their conditions better.

Anything else?
Bikram Yoga definitely makes me a better and more balanced person. I believe that yoga changes the world for the better. Everyone has to try it!


Teacher Story: Saya

What tips can you give students to support their practice off the mat?
Just like your practice on the mat, always work on your awareness and pace yourself throughout your day so you don’t wind up over worked, over stressed, or over whelmed.

What lead you to teacher training?
I was introduced to Bikram yoga where I grew up in Greenwich, CT back in 2001. I fell in LOVE with the practice right away and knew it would be a part of my life forever. It was actually the studio owners there who suggested I go to teacher training and teach for them once I became certified and that’s what I did.

Dealing with personal injury
The wonderful thing about yoga is that it does not discriminate, so you can come in pretty much any condition. You can be any size, you can be pregnant , and even show up with an injury; anyone can benefit as long as they are practicing with care and working with good form. When practicing with an injury, always be on the side of less and focus on the therapy. Yoga is one of the oldest forms of physical therapy and it really works when practiced with patience and care.

What other skill or perspective in related fields do you bring to teaching?
I am a certified pre-natal yoga instructor and am a trained doula as well for over 7 years now.

photo: Monica Felix

Teacher of the Month: Karli McGuiness

I started practicing Ashtanga yoga on a mat next to my older brother’s when I was a toddler and I giggled through my first several years of practice because we thought the chanting of “Om Shanti” was hysterical. My mother and grandmother belonged to an ashram in Long Island, so we were around yogis often. I practiced sparsely throughout my childhood and teens, but mostly took up equestrian riding and other sports.

I returned to (Bikram) yoga in high school and college but really began my daily practice in 2009 when I moved back to the States from a year abroad. The philosophy of yoga is one that has been a familiar thread throughout my life, but no other practice has transformed my mind (and as a result, my body) like Bikram yoga. My athletically disciplined mind became more determined than ever. My self love and artistic creativity expanded 100 times over. Compassion for others had always been important to me and I loved that my Bikram practice fed that. I physically felt like I could do anything. I started canceling social plans so I could take class… I was hooked!

Becoming a Bikram teacher has been, and continues to be, one of the greatest lessons and gifts Bikram Yoga has given me. I continue to learn and be inspired through teaching. Making note of how this yoga has changed my life would be an extremely long list, which would definitely lose the attention of those reading this! What I believe to be more powerful is how I have seen this yoga transform my students. I have seen those who have been disempowered by traumatic physical and emotional circumstances in their life take their power back, literally by the sweat of their brow. I have seen self esteem blossom and kindness grow where resentment once was. I have seen tremendous efforts and strides made towards patience, empathy, understanding, and acceptance of not only individuals, but of the group.

Our Bikram Yoga Park Slope community is incredibly special and the only proof you need is right in the locker rooms! The encouragement that happens from veteran students to newcomers over a shower after a killer classes is heartwarming. The bonds made over students navigating through tough personal issues while having their yogi friends to encourage them and their practice to ground them has been among the most special things to witness as a teacher.

BYPS has become home to so many, and I am SO proud to call it my yoga home. The only advice I have for new students is to drink plenty of water in preparation for class and just get to class! Then come back, even if it’s hard! Oh, and please don’t wear cotton, it makes you feel sooo much hotter. We have that part taken care of for you 😉 My last tip is paraphrased from Bikram himself: Let nothing steal your peace. You are infinitely stronger than you think you are. Never, ever give up.

photo: Monica Felix


photo: Monica Felix

Rebecca Causey Talks About Intermediate Class

How did you come to teach the intermediate class?

I first attended two Advanced Series seminars with Bikram and led the advanced class in Atlanta for several years.  Bikram does not offer a certification to teach the advanced series, but the longer I practiced it, the more I wanted to learn about the postures and how to teach them well; With this in mind I attended Tony Sanchez’s teacher training in Spring of 2014.  Tony was one of Bikram’s first students back in the 70’s and he has dedicated his life to the practice and teaching of yoga.  His knowledge of the postures runs deep and his trainings are small which allows the time and space to get into the specifics of each posture. Tony saw the need for a bridge between the Beginner 26 postures and the 84 posture Advanced Series and created what he calls the Core40 class, or what we call the intermediate class.  I learned this series from Tony.  He includes abdominal work in his series, but the specific abdominal work I teach in the intermediate class comes from my Pilates teacher training with Ellie Herman.

How does the intermediate class build on the beginner series?

The intermediate class moves at a bit of a faster pace than the beginner class, and often includes just one set of the posture instead of two.  The intermediate class assumes the the the students have enough familiarity of the 26 postures that much less verbal cuing/instruction is required.  This doesn’t mean you have to perform the postures perfectly– not even close– it just means you have both an awareness of the posture and of your body and how the two can come together to create strength and flexibility.  Many of the more intermediate postures that we do are the “full” (deeper) version of what we do in beginner class. I teach these step by step with verbal instruction. The postures may be different but the way we practice them is the same– we start by building a foundation and add to it, piece by piece.  In the same way that Standing Head to Knee takes time and effort to learn (and years later there is still progress to be had), these postures are no different.

What new areas of the body can students expect to be sore the next day?

Abdominals (rectus abdominis, obliques, transverse abdominis), inner thighs (adductors), arms (biceps/triceps), shoulder girdle (deltoids, rhomboids, traps, lats), butt (gluts), thighs (quadriceps and hamstrings) are all at risk of that, “I worked hard and my body is getting stronger and more flexible” feeling.

What would you say to somebody who still feels like a beginner, but wants to try the intermediate?

If you’ve practiced the Bikram series regularly and you don’t have any major injuries, come try it!   Labels are tricky.  Try not to get too tangled up in them.  I know  the word “intermediate” can be intimidating and confusing.  The simplest way I can put it is that “beginning” refers to the basics.  “Intermediate” just means we’re taking the basics and adding a little bit to it.  It means that when I say “Let’s do Balancing Stick,” you have a general idea of what that is going to look like, because you’ve done it several times in beginner class. It doesn’t mean you’re going to do it perfectly, it doesn’t mean your not going to fall out.  And it certainly doesn’t mean you’ll get scolded if either of those two things happen!  The desire your practice a step further is something to be celebrated.  A big part of this class is finding a sense of playfulness and ease– I hope you’ll join us!


‘Rebecca attended Bikram’s teacher training in Spring of 2008 and has been teaching ever since.  She has continued with many senior teachers and attended two of Bikram’s advanced seminars.  Rebecca has studied Pilates for several years and in 2013 she completed instructor training with renowned teacher Ellie Herman. In Spring of 2014, she attended Tony Sanchez’s Core26 and Core40 yoga teacher training.  Rebecca has experience training new teachers, leading posture clinics, and managing yoga studios. She is constantly seeking to learn more and is thrilled to attend weekly Anatomy and kineseology workshops this Fall with Irene Dowd. 

photo: Monica Felix

Erin & Rafael

Salsa Party: July 10

On July 10th we are bringing the salsa party to our Lefferts yoga studio. Take the 8 p.m. class with Roody to music and bust a move on the yoga dance floor afterwards! BYPS teacher Erin and her husband Rafael will be there to get the party started.

Rafael will be teaching the entire Beginner Class so please come even if you have no experience or a partner. Rafael owns a salsa dance school in his home town of Santiago de Cuba and he is very good at what he does…i.e. he’s totally used to teaching non-cubans how to dance! Read more of Erin’s story below about how she became a yoga teacher and met the love of her life on the dance floor.

What’s your yoga origin story?

I started practicing Bikram Yoga in Jan 1999 in San Francisco at Mary Jarvis’ Studio (which I randomly found in the yellow pages of the phone book.. when we still used phone books). I got into it as a way to stretch after long bike rides while I was training for the California AIDS Ride. I quickly started doing more yoga and less cycling. I expressed to Mary that I wanted to become a teacher. At the time I was working for a mental health clinic in SF and my goal was to incorporate yoga into the counseling and crisis work we were doing. She was very supportive. I went to training in December 2001 (thats where I met Roody). I taught for Mary for a year before moving to Brooklyn and teaching at various studios around NYC. I began teaching for Roody in May of 2003 and I’ve been with him since.

When I moved to New York, initially I was working as a social worker at a nursing facility for people with an AIDS, mental health and substance abuse issues. I also taught Yoga in this facility, while continuing to teach yoga at Roody’s studio. I went to nursing school 7 years ago and became an Oncology nurse. Now I teach various postures and breathing exercises to my patients while coaching them through the cancer treatment. Being a nurse also serves my yoga teaching. My knowledge of anatomy, physiology and disease process fuels my teaching and my drive to assist people in taking care of themselves…to practice preventative medicine.

Because I am in two caring professions, the yoga is vital to my own self-care. I HAVE to do it in order keep my body strong, my back healthy and my mind clear. It is impossible to care for others properly if we do not care for ourselves first. I would have burnt out long ago if not for my own practice.

When and why did you start dancing salsa?

I started dancing Salsa in 2013. I had been to Cuba once before and when I returned to Brooklyn I vowed to learn how to dance. I was fed up standing on the wall watching everyone else have fun. I started taking classes here in NYC and in 2013 I set up a “dance boot camp” trip for myself as a birthday gift. I met my husband on that trip at his salsa school in Santiago de Cuba.

What are the parallels between dance and yoga?

In yoga you have to focus on your self and build a better connection with your own body. In Salsa, you have to focus on your partner and build a connection with them. If you take your focus off your partner, the connection is broken and you can lose your step or balance. Same in yoga… if I break my focus in a balancing posture, I can break my connection and lose my balance. Salsa, like yoga, is a moving meditation that requires you to stay in the present moment. And of course, if you hold your breath in either activity, you will lose your endurance. I have to remind myself to breath while I am dancing just like in yoga.

Finally, both yoga and dance are challenging and it’s easy to get frustrated and give up in the beginning. We have to be patient as we stumble, trip, lose our balance or melt into a puddle on the floor, but step by step we learn, create a new muscle memory and then succeed.

There is no better feeling than accomplishing something we never thought we were capable of doing.