Opening Your Heart … When It Wants To Close

Valentine’s Day is coming up! Most of the time many of us will relish the focus on love and romance, with all of the heart imagery that goes with it. But …what if– for whatever reason–your heart is broken? What if life’s up and downs have plunged you into a place where being open is the very last thing you are inclined to do? Life coach and fellow yoga Stephanie Lazzara has a few words for us on this topic.

Heart opening, opening to love and caring for a broken heart….

How do we keep going when the heart wants to close instead of open? How do we fully feel the pain of a love-loss or the intensity of a growing, deepening love and still stay open?

Instead of trying to resist, contract or pull away, what if, instead, we take this an another opportunity for opening further, deeper, wider to love? It means staying in the uncomfortable present moments. We feel our hearts break and swell and mourn and ache in all of the pain and beauty we hold inside. And then it happens, we crack open, release and push up against all of our edges so that every cell of us becomes love.

Each place we are pushed emotionally or physically out of our comfort zones brings us to a greater awareness of ourselves, to our infinite capacity to love and loving, and towards the radical acceptance of ourselves as the vehicle for this love-light to burst out of every pore of our beings, touching the hearts of all we meet. Our hearts may yearn for a deeper loving, a deeper knowing, a deeper being seen. When we are open, we can access parts of ourselves that are hidden or that we hide in the shadows that make us whole and wholly lovable–just as we are.

How can you gently push yourself to expand further into love? When your body is at a limit of a pose, when your heart is breaking, where can you go deeper? While you are there, notice all the parts that come alive, even the parts that are hurting, and then ask yourself:

What does your deepest heart yearn for? Then go in further into this yearning …

Stephanie Lazzara is a certified professional coach, dancer, dance educator, and a regular BYPS practitioner. She specializes in helping her clients navigate through difficult life and relationship transitions and find more ease, clarity, and possibilities in the process of change.


Clothing Designer: Trudy Miller

Can you tell us something about your line?
I design extremely comfortable clothes that make women look and feel fabulous – regardless of age, size or phase in their body cycle.  All pieces in the collection are customizable to flatter individual body shape, and allow for personal expression.

My favorite new way to describe them is “sporty and elegant”.  (That’s the feedback our dear Carolyn Agis is getting when she wears my clothes – and it makes me so happy.)

What inspired you to produce your products and how did you get started?
Women’s bodies are constantly fluctuating – and on a regular cycle at that.  However, most clothes aren’t designed to acknowledge that.  I believe this is one of the primary reasons why negative body image is so prevalent among women, and why we tend to have overstuffed closets with things that fit us ‘sometimes’.

My moment of Divine Design Discontent came to me in a fitting room.  The clothes were telling me that my body was somehow wrong – even though I was fine with it before I walked in there.  I believe the muffin top epidemic/phenomenon was also in full swing.   That’s when I had enough – and decided to take matters into my own hands.

How did you come by your yoga practice?
My yoga practice is extremely varied – I like to mix it up. Initially I came into practice through Eve Holbrook, a truly gifted teacher. I was astounded by the depth of precision in her knowledge of the body, and how yoga put me in direct contact with parts of my physicality that I had never engaged before.

What is unique about your products that you know we will all love?
The garments provide near seamless transitions from hot to cold, day to evening, smart to sexy, pregnant to breastfeeding, etc. (I’ve been told they even perform very well during hot flashes!) My architectural design clients are happy with their spaces for similar reasons.  They are fully equipped to flow easily through their spaces and activities, unencumbered by the superfluous.

About Trudy
For Trudy Miller, architectural design is the multi-disciplinary practice of creating products and environments that do more with less.  From clothing and accessories to furniture and interiors, her primary focus is on surprising and delighting her clients with more than they imagined possible. Trained as an architect via CCNY and UC Berkeley respectively, Trudy has been committed to teaching about environmental sustainability to a wide variety of audiences.  She has taught at Parsons the New School for Design, Fashion Institute of Technology, and California College of the Arts. Trudy also teaches and mentors high school students through the Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum’s DesignPrep Scholars Program. For well over a decade, Trudy has been massaging her design practice and service model to illustrate a whole systems approach towards lifestyle design.  In early 2016, Trudy will launch solutionista.com – A Wellness Concierge Team that helps people make big and small changes to improve the quality of their daily lives; under the theme Find Your Flow in 2016, Trudy and Team Solutionista will offer lifestyle improvement services in the following categories:  Love Your Body, Love Your Space, Love Your Life


Student Story: Neyda Martinez

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

I was walking down Flatbush Avenue one day in a state of deep pain and emotional anguish, having lost my mother just a few months earlier. Feeling like an empty shell of my former self, I was “running on empty” when quite suddenly an ethereal voice whispered in my ear and directed me to “just melt the pain away.”  When I happened to look to the right, there was the Bikram Yoga studio! I’d never ever thought of doing Bikram Yoga before.

Coincidentally, the day before, I’d met Robbin Farrell. She joyfully stopped to say hello and acknowledged me for no reason but to say how lovely the flowers that I had just purchased were—sunflowers and white lilies. The following day, when I walked into the studio … there she was!  I started my practice in May of 2012 and I’ve kept it up ever since.

How has your practice affected your life?

When I started the practice, the physical and emotional pain was so great, I’d cry before, during, and after Pada-Hasthasana (Hands to Feet pose). I suffer from back pain and sciatica due to a series of falls I’d had in my early 20s and was also experiencing excruciating knee pain for nearly a year which my doctor could not explain.

It only took me a few weeks to get hooked. I bought both Bikram books and studied them religiously. I could feel the healing effects of the series early on, and the smallest gain in strength or an inkling of flexibility as I continued to practice got me excited. I was also grateful for the new-found ability to rest and to quickly rid my mind of any annoying thoughts and stupid chatter. However, it was the community of kind yogis at the studio and the compassion of the instructors that gave me the most hope. Reflecting now, I must have really been a mess with all of that crying during and after class, but at that time, I felt a break-through was on the horizon. A year later, my sister came with me to a class. She now practices too. And, though we live in different cities, we share this connection; it’s the most beautiful gift in the world!

What keeps you coming back for more?

Well, I’m hooked for life. No matter what I do … dance, ride my bike, or work out at the gym, the Bikram series is my priority and my anchor. I love that these postures are among the oldest forms of physical therapy. I have faith in the method and the discipline in keeping up with the practice. I do believe that it’s a mind-body-spirit connection with yourself and the universe around you that is developed and strengthened. Now, every day on the mat is a day for which I am grateful. I never leave a class without having learned or experienced something new. The hardest part for me sometimes is just simply looking at myself: I see my fears and I see my vulnerabilities. But there’s nothing to do in that hot room but to work through it. On days when I am exhausted or feeling especially challenged or fidgety, I remember to smile (a little or a lot) during my practice. I love the simplicity of it all.  A mat and a bottle of water and a little nourishing food is all we really need. Well, that and love!

Do you have any advice/insight for new yogis?

Well, it’s not my advice but rather the words of a fellow yogi who shared this with me recently after a class: “This yoga is life; it has nothing to do with feeling comfortable. We must learn to live outside of our comfort zone.”

My simple advice: Don’t give up! If this particular type of yoga is not for you, try other forms of yoga until you find the right one for you. You deserve the peace, the health, and the mental clarity that comes with it. You are worth it.


Student Story: Viviana

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

I started practicing Bikram yoga in January 2014 as part of the whole “new year, new me” idea as well as the plan to finally lose the weight I had gained with my third child (who at this point was 5 years old and no longer could I use the “I just had a baby” excuse!)

How has your practice affected your life?

Bikram yoga has made such a wonderful impact in my life. Everything has changed, and I do mean everything! I started practicing as just a way to lose weight from a vanity perspective and quickly did I realize how short-sighted I was. I’ve been fighting with my body image for years now; From being an obese child to an obese woman to losing weight in an unhealthy way … it was a constant struggle. This fight would not only affect my self esteem but my relationships with my husband and children. My stress level and anxiety was off the charts.

As I continued to practice Bikram I started to notice that I was sleeping better. My gastritis wasn’t acting up as badly as it had been, my anxiety was reduced, my level of stress was going down, and best of all: I was smiling more! By this point I wasn’t even focused on whether I had or had not lost any weight. My size didn’t seem to be the main agenda anymore: what became my priority was that I felt–and still feel–the healthiest I have ever been. I have learned how to manage stressful situations, I have learned how to be more patient with my family, and most of all, I have learned to love myself. That constant fight that I’d had for years, that fear of looking at a reflection in the mirror and hating what I saw had gone away. Because of this practice I am able to love more, feel more be more grateful for things I might have taken for granted before.

What keeps you coming back for more?

There are so many reasons I come back for more! Who doesn’t love seeing happy, sweaty glowing yogis! I’ve met so many wonderful people who are always smiling and with such positive vibes. Also, I want to continue to getting all the health benefits I can get with each class. I haven’t had a gastritis-related hospitalization in over a year! (Those events were common before I started practicing and I do not wish to go back to those days!) I also want to continue to feel good about myself so I can teach my children the importance of self-love and acceptance.

Do you have any advice/insight for new yogis?

KEEP COMING BACK! Remember that every day is different, and that it is normal to have those days were you can’t even hold one pose without falling out. Our bodies are different each day, and just as you can sometimes have those out-of-sync days, you will also have really awesome days where you might go past your norm and you might even surprise yourself, coming out of practice feeling so strong. So don’t give up, even on the bad days: Think  that at the end of practice: you came to practice and that is what matters. Tomorrow is another day.


Here we go! The next in the line up of our postures we are releasing once a week in the Bikram series. Use these videos to support your practice when you find yourself away from your home studio and remember to send us a shot of you in your favorite pose @bikramyogaparkslope #itsmyhotasana



Here are some benefits to Utkatasana:
  • Relieves sciatica, arthritis, rheumatism and gout in the legs
  • Firms all muscles of the thighs, calves and hips
  • Creates traction in the spine, increases strength in the weight-bearing joints
  • Improves blood circulation in the knee and ankle joints