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brian@elcreative.com

GLOWGA: GIVING HAS NEVER FELT SO NAUGHTY

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I texted my husband yesterday: “Going to Glowga.  Costume theme: naughty or nice.” His response: “Please choose nice, honey.”

His text made me lol simply because I know that he still finds it slightly shocking what we Bikram yogis wear to class anyway, even without a racy theme. Yet, what he may not fully understand is the fact that if you wear normal exercise clothes to a Bikram class, you may learn the true and unpleasant meaning of the idiom “sweatpants.” The fact of the matter is: survival sometimes depends on wearing as little as possible. It’s literally a sauna in there. But the fun is just around the corner. Especially with Glowga, I’ve just discovered!

glowgaWhat in the world is Glowga? I thought I had a vague idea of what it might be before last night.

Turns out, I was completely naïve about this unique Asheville subculture. Glowga surpassed my wildest expectations. Truly. I have not smiled so much since the Beck concert last spring, or seen so many glowing works of art and body parts moving through space to a spectacular soundtrack, for that matter. And should I really have expected anything less when we are talking about the efforts of the dynamic team at Hot Yoga Asheville?

Now it is cliché, I have to exclaim once again: “ Only in Asheville…” 

If your image of a modern yogi is that of a slightly arrogant, curry-smelling, self-serious new ager in long, black leggings and an air of superior, mystic knowledge, prepare to be completely disillusioned. Hot Yoga Asheville has reinvented the Bikram Method for certain nights, and from time to time offers this thrilling and hilarious version, where participants come in crazy costume, brandish glow sticks around wrists and waists, and move to grooves from James Brown to Elvis, to Adam Sandler’s Hanukkah song. I chose to go “nice,” as my husband requested, and I must admit I did feel nice. The room was not as hot as usual, so my elf slippers were fairly comfortable, and my newly died ginger hair fit right into the holiday theme, braids glistening in the black light like dewy poinsettias. However, when they called out the “nice elves” for the costume contest, I was one of two and won second place. No hard feelings harbored, however, because I knew she was way nicer than me. Just look at the picture for proof. That’s once nice elf.

On the other hand, the room oozed with self-declared “naughty elves.” Strange slay bells rang from wrists as bending silhouettes of glowing elves came in and out of focus. And then there was the holiday centerpiece: Ross. In the spirit of Scooby Doo, “Holy half moon pose!” That guy in the neon, leopard print shorts and the Santa hat with a strobe ball dangling on the end, maybe should consider patenting this sort of class. He was magnificent. The play list was sublime, and the instruction was… just the right balance of naughty and nice.  Ross kept us laughing through our theatrical camel and triangle poses. We were like a throng of yogi elves and reindeer who had suddenly been transported to a San Francisco nightclub. Never change, Hot Yoga Asheville.

If Glowga was a black market drug, I might have to break the law.

gloga-2Though nervous beforehand that I might be too prissy to enjoy such close proximity with so many gyrating, sweating homo sapiens in the dark, I surprised myself by basking in a sort of euphoria through much of the class. Highlights for me may have been the moment when I stretched into standing bow while James Brown screamed that he loved me. Also, the Savasana at the end, set to the ever-languid sound of Ella Fitzgerald, held me in a happy trance. Believe it or not, I was in tremendous hip pain throughout the entire class from my chronic laboral joint tear. Yet, strangely, I breathed and smiled. Crazy, really. When I surfaced from my dark, sweaty poses, glowing arms moved like jellyfish around me, to the grooves of Madonna, Buddy Holly, Pat Beneatar, hip hop remixes of Brenda Lee… all I could do was laugh, sweat, smile, stretch, and breathe. This is the most fun I’ve had in ages. And I still respect myself this morning.

Rave yoga-style for a great cause.

Hot Yoga Asheville schedules Glowga sessions every so often as fund raisers for various causes. So far, the studio has raised money for Brother Wolf, Breast Cancer awareness, Manna Food Bank, and this one is for Sleep Tight Kids, which provides newly purchased nighttime-related items to children in desperate situations. So far, Hot Yoga Asheville has raised over $2000 in donations for these causes through Glowga.

Visit Hot Yoga Ashville to find out about the next Glowga night! January 9th raising money for Homeward Bound with a New Years Gratitude theme!

https://www.facebook.com/SleepTightKids

http://www.bwar.org

https://www.mannafoodbank.org

SURRENDER TO YOUR INTENTION IN THE NEW YEAR

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I challenge you to think of one experience in life that does not lend itself well to a yoga metaphor. Okay, you win. Candy Crush may not mirror the intention of finding balance, strength and renewal, or does it? The best yoga metaphor is subjective. For me, singing and playing music parallels my yoga practice in the dual quest of letting my best expression emerge out of chaos; the practice of finding a balance between not trying too hard to the point of affectation or artifice, yet trying just enough to hit the magic. I would imagine the parallel for, say, a painter or a glass blower might be similar. Even a robotics engineer may on some level seek that place where strength and creativity flow without unnecessary struggle, as yoga has taught me to seek. Yoga may be an especially helpful metaphor when we think about change and renewal in the coming year. As 2015 descends upon us, most of us find ourselves reflecting on the year and contemplating our perceived successes and failures as we look forward and formulate our new years’ resolutions. Though doing more yoga may be one of them, the metaphors within the yoga practice may lead us to other new years’ resolution breakthroughs. For instance, finding courage to try new things is one of my goals for 2015.

family

Have you strayed from yoga over the holidays? That’s okay.

If you are at all like me, you may have eaten too many chocolate pinwheels, bar-be-cued meatballs, and gravy-drenched side dishes at the holiday parties over the past few weeks. Not to mention the copious amounts of wine continually flowing, and bottomless Ben and Jerry’s tubs beckoning from Nana’s freezer. My Christmas week was an unplanned binge and purge rollercoaster, as the flue seized my body in chills and aches just before Christmas dinner. Taking the place of the previous days of indulgence, my next few days entailed frequent trips to the bathroom, and whimpering pitifully in the guest room while flipping through Nana’s People magazines. I sure up to date on the Hollywood gossip now, but I think Iwill pass on Cameron Diaz’ new diet plan since my body had apparently chosen its own unpleasant diet plan for me over Christmas.

Needless to say, I went without doing yoga for days on end. Sure, I would sneak in a standing bow here, a half tortoise there as the north winds wheezed at the gables, but my body was in no shape to plunge into the Bikram series.  It was all I could do to stagger down the stairs to watch Homeland or grope in the pantry for yet another swig of Pepto Bismol.  I found that I deeply missed my yoga practice. I needed it. Not only has my body suffered from abandoning the practice over the Christmas week, my sense of purpose and pursuit has blurred and loosened its clarity. I need to find that secret place again that lets me breathe, see more clearly, and let go.

 

Change is not only about resolutions. It is, above all, about actions.

New years’ resolutions remind us that we do not have to continue our same habits and patterns that constrain and limit our potential. They remind us that we need only choose to change in order to inspire real change in ourselves. Many of us use this time of year as a catalyst to launch us into the self that we most aspire to be. We say we will eat healthier, quit our unhealthy addictions, exercise more, do more for our friends and families, and the world, and pursue our dreams. These resolutions are little victories in and of themselves, yet when we take the action to make them real, we begin to feel the transformations of these resolutions. All we really need to do after we decide to do something different is to do it. As simple as this sounds, procrastination too often rears its lazy head and keeps us from awakening these changes in our lives. Margaret Atwood puts it beautifully in her timeless advice for writers:

“I think the main thing is: Just do it. Plunge in! Being Canadian, I go swimming in icy cold lakes, and there is always that dithering moment. ‘“Am I really going to do this? Won’t it hurt?”’ And at some point you just have to flop in there and scream. Once you’re in, keep going. You may have to crumple and toss, but we all do that. Courage! I think that is what’s most required.”

Courage.

For me, Bikram Yoga has become this catalyst that breaks through the roadblocks of procrastination and fuels me with courage to change. Not only do I aspire to my best self, physically, spiritually, and emotionally through yoga, I strive to simply take the action necessary to make it happen in the first place. That is, on a good day. It is a continual challenge though, to hurl aside the insidious excuses that tempt us to do anything but our resolution. Sometimes that first step is the hardest part. But looking at it in another way, it is easy. In the yoga context, this is how easy it is: Check out the yoga schedule, pack up the mat and yoga clothes, jump in the car, and head to the studio. Then the real action begins. Yoga teaches me to surrender to my intention and take action accordingly.

In order to ignite ourselves fully to the awesome potential that we know is sprouting within us, we must follow our aspirations by springing into physical action. Roll out your mat. Resume your practice. The rest will follow.

HOT YOGA IN ASHEVILLE- BLENDING OUTDOORS WITH INDOORS

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We live in one of the most beautiful places in the world!- Tucked away in the mountains with amazing weather, mountains, rivers and lakes! Asheville is also the home to some incredible yoga studios, teachers and students. The best thing about Asheville is that while we enjoy playing hard- cycling, hiking, enjoying the breweries- there are plenty of opportunities to find balance through a hot yoga practice. With us at Hot Yoga Asheville we pride ourselves on providing a safe place to detox, heal and relieve stress. Our hot yoga room is equipped with far infrared heaters and fresh air exchange to allow for the most clean and effective way to safely cleanse and improve your body.

Unlike other hot yoga classes in Asheville, our yoga studio specializes in hot yoga, thus we built our hot yoga room specifically to provide the best in hot yoga therapy. Far infrared heat is an optimal heat source as it allows for deep penetration, speeding up recovery from injury while increasing relaxation and cell regeneration.  We also have a wonderful fresh air exchange system (ERV) to ensure proper oxygen levels in the room. In addition, we provide Kangen Alkaline Ionized water to replenish those vital electrolytes lost during a workout. You can truly hydrate your body to compliment the detox process. More Oxygen-More Health!

One thing we hear a lot from our students is how much they enjoy outdoor activities, especially in the fall! Watching the leaves change from green to fiery red and orange is eye candy to say the least. They enjoy mountain biking, hiking, climbing and more. But what we also have found is that these activities, while extremely fun and fulfilling can create stiffness, soreness and even injury.

We want you to enjoy the outdoors and all these great activities. Even more so, we want you to enjoy these for the long term. So we work hard to provide the best hot yoga in Asheville where you can feel reinvigorated and limber again. Using this Hot Yoga as a tool to strengthen your core muscles will help minimize risk of injury in all your activities and increase your enjoyment of them as well. So get outside, enjoy Asheville, and then hop into a hot yoga class with us to top it off and feel great!

THE YOGA IS INNOCENT

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emmyOne of my favorite teachers, Emmy Cleaves, is recognized as an icon in the Bikram Community.  Emmy Cleaves is in her late 80’s and still teaches the beginning Bikram Yoga series as well as leads advanced class in Los Angeles often twice a week. Her style of teaching includes a tremendous amount of medical knowledge and an in depth understanding of the human body as it relates to the yoga poses we practice. She teaches from the back of the room and can often be found sneaking up on you with a poke of a finger that changes your posture profoundly… and it always happens just when you think you’ve mastered the pose. She doesn’t miss a beat!

Her class is interlaced with tons of tiny gems that when captured, will forever change your life. One thing she can be heard saying is “the yoga is innocent.” While in the moment, this saying helps us get through perhaps an extra tough class or posture… upon further reflection I have found so much more to this saying.

Since beginning my practice in 2001 at just 21 years old and nearing the end of my college days, this yoga has served as a staple in my life. There have been many classes and moments throughout my years of practice that have brought me to tears of both joy and frustration. There have been days where I have spent the entire 90 minutes of a class hating the class, postures, teacher, heat, etc.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, on these occasions I hear Emmy in my head reminding me, “The yoga is Innocent.”  But what does this really mean?

When I look back at my 13 years of practice I can honestly say that my yoga practice has always been an expression of where I am in my life. When I have struggled with anger… the challenge of the poses has been a way for me to push through it. When I have felt insecure… the mirror has reflected this back to me and sometimes made looking at myself for 90 minutes excruciating. In moments of sadness… the postures have felt so heavy and challenging. And through moments of joy… the class seems to fly by and I feel super human.

So my humble advice to anyone finding a particular “good” or “bad” in class, do your very best to let it go. The yoga is innocent. Do not blame the yoga. But most of all, do not even blame yourself. You are only human and to go through the emotional and physical ups and downs is a part of our living. Use your practice as a time to reflect, let go, enjoy, move on, heal and mostly as a time to accept yourself, as you are… because YOU ARE truly beautiful.

YOGA TEACHERS ARE LIKE FAVORITE SONGS

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The celebrity status we attach to our yoga teachers may limit our full potential. Hot Yoga Asheville- Bikram Method encourages trying a variety of teachers.

When we practice Bikram Method, we tend to garner some strong feelings about our teachers. So, if you’re anything like me, you may peruse the lists of classes and teachers and hand pick your weekly practice schedule based on the teachers that have proven most beneficial to you in your own mind. Yoga in Asheville is no different than yoga in San Francisco in this way, I’ve found. Wherever we are, we find ourselves gravitating to a select group of teachers. At times, some of these favorite teachers become a little like celebrities to us. We begin to worship them a little, and idealize them. Of course we do. We need heroes, and who better than someone who encourages the best in ourselves? Perhaps certain teachers take on the status of celebrities in many of our minds because they symbolize to us our own transformation into a better vision of ourselves. As they teach us to listen to our own bodies and challenge our limits, they reflect the more perfect incarnation of ourselves to which we continually aspire. So we hold them up like totems to our transformation. As we stretch and sweat and learn to love ourselves, we can’t help falling a little bit in love with our teachers too. Just as the heat in the room softens our joints, rendering our bodies more flexible, the heat of each teacher’s spirit serves to open our hearts and minds to new possibilities.

A favorite among Asheville yoga studiosHot Yoga Asheville.

New Years Eve Day 2013 at Hot Yoga Asheville. (One of my faves dead center with the crazy glasses…do you see me hovering behind him?)

YOGA TEACHERS ARE NOT JUST OUR TRAINERS.

Their words can become like sermons or spiritual catalysts to us in our quest to find balance and truth, oftentimes both physical and spiritual. This is why we sometimes find ourselves in awe of a certain teacher to the point of avoiding other teachers. Almost like a high school crush, we keep coming back to their voice and their truth that excites us and takes us to that familiar place where we feel free to explore our potential.  There’s nothing wrong with this admiration. Yet sometimes, when we limit ourselves to only a few of our favorites, we are missing out on the potential to learn from other teachers in different ways.

WHY DO WE GET SO ATTACHED TO OUR YOGA TEACHERS?

The simple answer is that we seek the things that we understand and things that make sense to us, personally. What songs we choose on Spotify, for example, often are the ones we chose yesterday. Hmm, I need to hear a little Norah Jones this morning, we might think as we sip our coffee and ready ourselves for the day.  Or we turn up the volume on James Brown as we scamper around the kitchen making burgers for a barbeque. These music choices shape our mood and guide our stories, just as the choice of a yoga teacher shapes and guides us. We choose to be influenced by specific songs and people, literature, movies, tastes, words. Yet, sometimes, without even realizing it, we could use a different song, a different rhythm, and a different teacher that can awaken us in new ways. Why not break out the Bulgarian Choral music for a change? Or what might happen inside of us if we were to turn off the Norah Jones even when we craved it, and put on the Flaming Lips? At a certain point, it doesn’t really matter what music we put on, as long as we really listen, and discover something new inside the music. The same is true for yoga teachers.Find the epiphanies hiding in the approach of new teachers. Asheville donation yoga is a great place to start.

Hot Yoga Asheville offers donation classes on Saturdays at noon, featuring an array of talented  teachers.  This way you can experience a sampling of different teachers as you explore Asheville yoga. I get excited if I see that one of my favorite teachers will be teaching at a time when I might be able to juggle my life in a way that allows me to make the class. Other times, when I see a window of time that does not coincide with a favorite teacher, I sigh and think, ah well, maybe another day. Yet, every once in a while, I go anyway, and every time, I have learned something extraordinary. In fact, sometimes, especially if I venture out of my teacher comfort zone, I am reminded why I practice in the first place: to inhabit my own body, mind and spirit in a fuller way. “Squeeze your knees together,” said one of these teachers, when I leaned back into fixed firm position, andsuddenly I understood the pose in a whole new way. Each teacher brings their own unique style and presence to the practice, but in the end, yoga is about you and your intentions. Sometimes your celebrity teacher may even distract you from this purpose. I have found this to be true. But don’t take my word for it. Try a new teacher. I almost promise that you will learn something completely new.

WHY I WANT BIKRAM YOGIS AROUND DURING AN APOCALYPSE

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These past few years apocalypse themed movies and shows continue to be all the craze. It seems that every few months another movie based on the end of the world is premiering- The World’s End, World War Z, Resident Evil, After Earth, War of the Worlds, This is the End.. and the list goes on.

As a yoga teacher and practitioner who is the yoga room 10+ times a week I have found myself wondering how practicing yoga can change the world- How the practice of empowering oneself can in turn empower humanity. The famous quote by Marianne Williamson proclaims that “as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

But what happens when the lights go out? What happens when the end of the world comes around, as these popular movies suggest? How will yoga help me then???

Well, here’s my theory. In the case of an apocalypse, I want Bikram yogis by my side and here’s why. For those of you who are unfamiliar, in Bikram Yoga classes the temperature is set to approximately 102-105 degrees. This extreme environment aids in the detoxifying effects as well as helps get the body get limber as we stretch, and helps promote cardiovascular benefits. (For more on the benefits of the heat click here.) But the extreme environment also cultivates a certain type of person, as well as a need for certain supplies. So here are my top 8 reasons why Bikram Yogis are equipped to be my teammates should the end of the world scenario arise.

1. Good with Instruction: In a Bikram class there is a leader or teacher in the front of the class who gives clear and concise commands and guides the students in and out of each posture very specifically. It is a skill to be able to follow voice commands and these yogis are experts. In the case of an apocalypse, I imagine there will be a need for a task force who works together and can work with one leader at a time. After all, too many captains steering a ship and the boat sinks.

2. Clear Headed: Bikram yogis (and yogis in general) are excellent at clearing their minds. In order to create a good escape plan and survive the end of the world we need to be as focused and sharp as possible. In an extreme environment- like that of a Bikram studio- these yogis are able to stay calm and rational (well, most of the time ☺). We learn to use our thoughts in a positive way in order to overcome the obstacle ahead. Definitely useful during an apocalypse.

3. Peak Physical Form: Bikram Yogis are in top physical form. Taking 90 minutes a day to shape, energize and heal your body works wonders for your athletic performance.

4. Water Rationing: In a Bikram class it is important not to guzzle too much water. Thus, I feel confident that if there was a need for water rationing, my Bikram yogi friends would be fair and even in their rationing. We know the value of water and can make an 8 oz bottle last for days! (of course we drink ½ a gallon a day in “real life”.)

5. Yogis are flexible: During my end of the world scenario, there will most certainly be a time when we must retreat to the hills and live in small caves. Being flexible and limber, we could all fit together and keep warm at night nicely.

6. Towels Galore: Bikram yogis come equipped with lots and lots of towels which help them in class to absorb their sweat. While these towels serve a purpose in class, they would serve a greater purpose outside of class. That is- towels can be doubled as bandages in case injuries are sustained during the catastrophic destruction of the world as we know it. (Even the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy requires most a towel.)

7. We Thrive in the Heat: As global warming continues to be an issue, I believe that the added ability Bikram yogis have to maintain and exist in extremely high heat will be beneficial during the day as we seek other life forms and work to recreate humanity.

8. Perfect Match: Lastly, in case all the other people on the planet were to perish and only me and one other person were to survive… and we were the last chance to procreate and start a new world, I would hope that my partner in this task would be an ultimate yogi, in peak physical shape and possess all of the super powers yogis possess.

In short, yogis and yoginis of all sorts would be excellent to have around in case of an apocalypse, but Bikram yogis come with a few extra perks. I would be honored to have them by my side as we traverse the remains from the destruction of the world. So, here I am, off to another class full of yogis, and just in case the meteor (or whatever brings us our demise) hits while I’m in class, I know I’m surrounded by the best possible task force of strong amazing yogis!

WELCOME TO OUR BLOG!

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We are very excited to introduce our new Hot Yoga Blog! We have so many fun and exciting ideas to share with you and we hope to create new posts on a regular basis to check back soon!

TOP 3 REASONS WHY YOGIS ARE THE WORST

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I often peruse yoga blogs, blog commentaries, and yogi Facebook groups which frequently leave me pulling out my hair thinking, “My goodness! Yogis are the worst! So much drama!”

Why is it that for a group of people who are seeking a path toward enlightenment, surrender and acceptance, yogis are so quick to judge, reprimand and be opinionated about… well… everything!? Be it the argument of “My yoga style is better than your yoga style…” Or “That person put their mat too close to my mat…” Or “This studio is better than that studio…” yogis seem to find themselves in the midst of these arguments all too often.

As a teacher, studio owner and yoga student for over 15 years, I have some thoughts on this. I say this lightly and in jest, and by no means count myself out of the group, yet I believe there is reason to look into this further.

Here are my top 3 reasons why Yogis are the Worst:

1. With intelligence and awareness comes ideas, opinions, and in the space of online forums… gossip and drama. Yogis are some of the most intelligent people. We gravitate toward a yoga practice because we seek internal silence. During our yoga sequence, there is no time for thinking, making lists, or over analyzing. It’s just me, my breath and the moment (at least that’s what we are trying to achieve.) People become passive aggressive or just plain aggressive in their comments, while still claiming openness. I see comments like, “I’m not judging, but…” For future reference folks, the “but” invalidates the “I’m not judging part.”

2. More recently, people practice yoga to achieve fitness results and the spiritual aspect of yoga becomes secondary. This is what attracted me to yoga too! However, one of the main pursuits of yoga is to achieve BALANCE between the physical, mental and emotional self.

This goes three ways:
balance

The three categories are interchangeable. So it doesn’t matter whether we are practicing yoga to get fit, or we are practicing to relieve stress and balance emotions, the side effect is more balance- a balance between mind (mental), body (fitness/therapy) and soul (emotions). But, this takes time to achieve so in the meantime yogis are “the worst” because there can be a sense of superiority that comes across as arrogance and narrow mindedness. Thus we are subjected to thoughts and opinions which go unchecked outside of the yoga bubble.

3. Commoditization of yoga and the yoga lifestyle has been fast on the rise leaving us with a false sense of spirituality. We are told by the mainstream media that wearing the best yoga gear (yes, I like my clothes), driving the hybrid car (yes, I have a Prius) and having the right yoga mat or towel (I’ve got a bunch) will enhance our lives and are what make us good yogis. All too often, people walk the walk and talk the talk, but most haven’t gotten to the place of true enlightenment (we do try though). In fact, what makes us good yogis is our ability to keep showing up. What makes us good yogis is the practice of getting back up. What makes us good yogis is our practice of compassion.

So how can we use what we learn through our yoga practice and apply it outside the yoga room?

One thing we can do is recognize that our yoga practice is a microcosm of our “real” life. Everything that happens in the yoga room can be applied to some aspect of outside life. I call this process S.L.A.P. Here’s how SLAP works with learning a new yoga posture for instance.

See the posture and visualize it in your mind
Listen to the instruction
Approach the posture by setting up your body
Practice the posture by doing as much as your body allow.Now apply it to gossip. To move away from gossip and more into balance remember SLAP.
See yourself and notice your thoughts.
Listen to your internal voice and recognize what voice is higher self.
Approach the conversation from an open perspective, or better yet, skip to the fourth step
Practice Dharma not Drama. Turn off the device, or close your lips, and just walk away.And if all else fails, keep it simple! Just SLAP yourself upside the head for your silliness, do more yoga, and try again tomorrow.

Bikram student shares how Hot yoga helped his shoulder injury

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” So I had two rotator cuff surgeries on my right shoulder a year apart. The first one didn’t work. And so I had to have it redone. And I had practiced other forms of yoga prior to my rotator cuff surgeries and I couldn’t practice the Vinyasa Ashtanga anymore because I couldn’t do the chaturangas and I couldn’t do the planks. So a friend of mine said, “You might want to try Bikram” because it is not, you know, you don’t have to worry about your shoulder as much.

So I came and I fell in love with it and that was right before the 30-day challenge a year ago. And one of the instructor said, “You might want to try the 30-day challenge because it is a great way to jumpstart your practice” it totally transformed my life and not just my body but I am calmer, I am nicer to my family. You know, I have got my sense of humor back and my shoulder is healed through this yoga so I am really grateful for this practice. “