Hi everybody. I know it's been a few months since I've featured a 30-day-challenge yogi. I've been wrapped up with launching my business, La Dea Vita. It translates into the Goddess Life, and I am designing yoga wear for women of diverse shapes & sizes. May we all look and feel like Goddesses when we show up for our practice! And speaking of Goddesses, let me introduce you to Joanna.
MH: Hi Joanna. How did you stumble upon Bikram Yoga?
JW: I tried a class in Raleigh, NC probably more than 10 years ago, but I didn't become hooked at the time. I didn't think I was ready. After regularly practicing other types of yoga during the intervening years, my friend Connie suggested that we go to a Bikram class together at the wonderful studio in Winston-Salem, NC in the fall of 2008.
Do you recall what that second 1st class was like?
I can't really tell you about it specifically. It's not like I tried to leave the room or anything. It was certainly surprisingly hot and challenging, but my background in dance and yoga enabled me to listen to my body, take it at my own pace, and not panic.
That's wonderful, as your body is a trust-worthy instrument. Why did you decide to stick with it this time?
I came back because of the amazing way I felt afterward. I could feel that lots of stagnant energy, previously trapped in my body, had been stirred up and released, leaving me deeply relaxed, calm, and better able to face the challenges of the day.
Yeah, I love how transformative and so very healing this practice is. Where or are you working with any injuries?
I've had ongoing problems with my lower back ever since being in a bad car accident in 1995. However, when I'm doing Bikram Yoga regularly, it doesn't bother me at all. When the yoga stops, the pain comes back. That's one of the reasons I know this will be a lifelong practice. I also have a weak left ankle as a reminder of a bad sprain there about 6 years ago. I find rolling up on my tippy toes in Awkward Pose very difficult, and also extremely strengthening for that ankle.
Yeah, I have to agree. I also feel that this is a lifelong practice, and I too feel the pain creep back in when I dont practice regularly. Please share with me, what do you like/dislike about the practice?
I like many things: the fact that it's the same every time allows me to really see and feel progress from class to class; the way it regulates my emotions; and seeing a community of like-minded people at the yoga studio. Growing up, I spent a lot of time in a dance studio, and Bikram class reminds me of ballet class...the discipline, the focus on proper alignment, the expectation that I will respect the teacher's expertise and try my best to make the corrections he or she offers. I only wish that Bikram Yoga had been part of my life when I was seriously dancing. I think the training methods are wonderfully complementary. I'm certain that my backbend is deeper (and healthier) now than when I was a teenage ballerina! I can't think of anything I dislike about the practice. I guess maybe the smell of the hot room sometimes, but never during class. I'm extremely grateful to have found Bikram Yoga. It has changed my life profoundly.
I hear that so many times from so many people: "I wish I'd found Bikram Yoga sooner..." but of course, here we are today and we are all benefiting from the practice. What inspired you to do a 30DC?
I've wanted to do a Challenge since I rediscovered Bikram Yoga in 2008, but the logistics of my life didn't make it possible. When I started a new job with predictable hours and in close proximity to my new home studio - Bikram Yoga Amherst in Western Massachusetts - I realized that it was finally possible for me to give it a try...and I went for it with gusto!
That's great :) And now that the perfect time has presented itself for you to immerse yourself in the practice, have you set any intentions?
I made the commitment to the Challenge directly after something upsetting occurred in my life. I thought I would benefit from the daily release; that it would help calm obsessive thoughts and keep emotions from getting stored in my body. I do think the daily practice has allowed me to achieve those things, but there have been other benefits as well: I feel more tightly pulled in to the center line of my body; every part of my body is stronger and more flexible; and my skin looks and feels amazing (if I do say so myself).
I second that-- your skin is glowing! As is your smile :) What about the postures? Which ones are your fav/least fav?
I love Half Moon pose - all four directions. It releases so much tension so quickly, and feels great. I'm also in love with Triangle. When I get everything lined up right, and am stretching in all directions at once, I feel like I'm plugged directly in to the Universe. You know what I mean?
Amen sister. I know exactly what you mean.
My least favorite posture is probably Standing Head to Knee because it's so difficult for me. Even after all this practice, I struggle to grip my foot correctly. However, when I have a good day with it, it is oh-so-satisfying!
Yeah. Lately I've been asking my students to pay extra attention to their footing. So often we're focused on the knee and getting the forehead to thouch and X,Y,Z that the very essentials of footing are forgotten. Especially as you heal your left ankle, make sure that the foot is on the floor with weight distributed throughout (no gripping the towel with your toes!) Any last closing words my dear?
I've developed little rituals to help keep me motivated to go to the studio day after day, and one that I find most helpful, especially because I love colors and sparkly things, is to put a sparkly, colorful sticker on my wall calendar at home after each class. As the month goes on, the calendar fills up with stickers,and I find it to be a helpful visual reminder of what I'm accomplishing.
Stickers! Yeah, brilliant. I love that. Thanks so much for sharing Joanna. Keep on shining, sister!