Student Stories: Practicing once a week with Denise

How did you get started doing yoga and how long have you been practicing?

I started competitive sports at a young age, and it carried through college. After college, I picked up running and rounded it out with some strength training and other gym-centric aerobic activities. My husband encouraged me to try Bikram yoga when I was in my early 30s. BYH had just recently opened. I didn’t think it would be “challenging” enough for me, but I went. Boy was I wrong! It was not only plenty challenging, but it felt like such a good thing to do for the body. I felt pretty terrible during the first few classes—but don’t worry, it was a good terrible! I wasn’t accustomed to the heat, and it really is an intense full body workout. I stuck with it, going once a week, and got into a nice rhythm with my practicing. I then had two kids and stopped going for a number of years. I started back up again about two years ago (when the kids were 8 and 5) and was amazed by how much I/my body remembered. It wasn’t starting from zero again.

What does your practice consist of?

I go to BYH, almost without fail, once a week. For me, it’s part of a balanced program of activity that also includes running, strength training and other things. I try to exercise five days a week, with varying activities. I’m not a maniac—exercise just feels good. The consistent weekly yoga helps to undo all of the high-impact pounding. It’s also my “90 minute escape.” It’s just you and the mirror and the instructor guiding you through the 26 postures. I use this time to clear my mind (which can be difficult). I also try each week to make improvements. That’s what practicing anything is all about. If I see progress in just one of the 26 postures—progress in the form of wider range of motion, ability to hold the pose longer (standing series), better form, clearer mind—I feel successful.

How have you managed to see progress from only coming once a week?

I am not a super-flexible person, but my range of motion has improved dramatically in the last two years. My form has improved too. I’ve also learned how to train my mind to settle down during class. It’s a luxury to think about nothing other than these 26 postures for 90 minutes, and I look forward to it each week. There is still so much more progress to be made, which is the beauty of Bikram yoga. There is always room for improvement, which will carry me through life.

What would be your advice for new students?

Be patient. Progress is inevitable if you show up and try. It’s your yoga, not anyone else’s. Wherever you are in your practice is all that matters. Don’t worry about what anyone else is doing, unless you are using someone else’s form as a way of learning. (This, by the way, is a good thing to do, and positioning yourself in the back of the room is helpful for observing form.) And drink a lot of water after class!

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