Student Story: Kenny Hillman-Love

I first tried practicing Bikram  Yoga so I could impress a girl named Christine who was a regular practitioner. I decided I hated Bikram but loved the girl and vowed never to go back. A few months later I got a bulged disc and she suggested that I return to the practice. I did, and the improvements in my back were immediate. That was almost 4 years ago. Christine and I are now married and she’s a Bikram teacher so I owe a lot to this practice!

Bikram Yoga has helped me lose weight, gain balance, and improve my athleticism. It helps me be less reactive and speak to myself more gently. I travel a lot and I love that I can go anywhere and practice and connect with a huge group of yogis wherever I go. Furthermore, it’s an amazing thing to share with my wife; I feel like it brings us closer whenever we get a chance to practice together.

I keep coming back because my body just feels good when I do it. I feel more centered and present with my life when I practice regularly.

My advice would be to keep coming back. Try to practice a lot at first so you can get used to the heat. And don’t judge yourself too harshly. I still have to remind myself that this is a life-long practice and every class is a chance to learn and grow. Sometimes I can take myself too seriously when I practice so I think keeping a playful attitude is important.


Student Story: Katie Wilt

Why did you start practicing Bikram yoga and how long have you been practicing?

I did a handful of classes a few years ago but came back to the practice in November 2014. As an avid runner, I was looking for ways to take care of and preserve my body so I could continue running in the most healthy manner possible.

Bikram also offered the challenge of practicing something that I was not an expert at with instructors who could help me improve my skill. It appealed to me that my mind and spirit would benefit as well, which is important to me.

How has your practice affected your life?

I am more flexible. I have a few more tricks up my sleeve when it comes to relaxing. I believe I walk a little taller; I haven’t measured myself, but perhaps more importantly, I feel taller.

What keeps you coming back for more?

Seeing progress is motivating! I value the practice of strength, concentration, and letting go. I find the work you do in class stays with your body and I love that feeling.

Do you have any advice/insight for new yogis?

They call it “practice” for a reason. Think of the teachers as coaches. They provide insight into things you can’t see or are not yet aware of in your body. Their voices serve as an anchor for your mind during class.

The teacher says, “Take the opportunity to focus your eyes on your own in the mirror.” Typically, when I look in a mirror it is in a more calm state for information and assurance. In this yoga, the mirror also can provide a source of power. It is not often we take the time to look directly at ourselves when our determination and concentration is so present on the surface and raw.

You are with people of different strengths and we are all doing the best we can and we do better together.


Student Stories: Brittany Barton

My first Bikram class was October 2010 in St. Louis. A practitioner of other types of yoga for years, I’d avoided the Bikram studio because of a certain ex-boyfriend I was trying to stay away from. Then I met my now husband, Scott, who claimed that Bikram Yoga had changed his life. Of course I had to try it! My first class was great; I took to the heat immediately and began practicing at least three times per week. That was four and a half years ago and now I can’t stay away from the hot room for more than a day until I crave it again.

Yoga has affected my life in so many positive ways and in ways I can’t yet name. I know the regular practice is giving me gifts that will extend into all my future years. In the beginning, my practice was focused on fitness. The Type A in me wanted to “win” every class. A year into it my mind finally relaxed and the meditative benefits took hold, and so at that point the yoga community became a priority. Now I come to the studio to visit with my yoga family.  My husband and I practice together and the studios have become second homes where we feel loved and supported. Yoga is leading me to a more prosperous life.

The energy keeps me coming back. Each class has its own personality and that’s reflected in my practice, the same way my body responds to all environmental factors. I like that it’s a different class every time I walk through the door. I’m  guaranteed a mental and physical stretch every time. And being from the south, I crave the heat and humidity so I find comfort in the hot room.

My advice to new yogis is to keep coming back. Over time you’ll relax into the postures, understand the meditative quality of moving through the heat and learn to apply the lesson of listening to your body outside the yoga room.

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.


Yulia’s Message to Rebecca Causey After Posture Clinic

Periodically, BYPS offers posture clinics to their students which focus on the finer details of  a particular series of postures. Our student, Yulia, reveals her big “thanks!” to Rebecca.

Dear Rebecca,

First of all, thank you so much for the wonderful posture clinic! It was very interesting, enlightening, and somewhat surprising. I especially loved the opportunity for one-on-one attention, which, I’m sure doesn’t happen too often.

There were a few things I particularly benefited from. In general, I definitely enjoyed picking your brain for little bits and pieces of Bikram technique that I was missing; Those tips truly have made all the difference in my practice, and in the process helped to fix the tunnel vision I seem to shift into during class.

Triangle posture is usually one of my favorites, and so it’s especially exciting to see that mine can be improved; I know that my hip joints will probably thank both of us later as well. I find that I have to dig deeper and deeper during practice as time goes by so posture clinics are very helpful in that regard. I am presented with a different perspective on the things I’ve come to take for granted.

I also loved the detailed instruction on separate leg stretching. Your corrections are already helping me mitigate the neck issues I’ve had in the past. (cue a loud “whew” from my neck!)

But most of all, thank you for helping me understand that sometimes I do certain “helpful” things simply because I think that I’m not physically capable of the right way (such as bending my knees in order to grab my heels during separate leg stretching). That was a welcome reminder that sometimes I just have to try the right way first and see how it goes. I might just get pleasantly surprised… Or I might fall on my face which is still very much ok! Either way, I’m having a lot of fun ;).

Rebecca, thank you,


P. S.: I look forward to the posture clinic on the spine strengthening series; though I suppose there’s still tree, toe, wind removing and savasana.