Almost 15 years ago, on Sunday, February 11th, 2001 I took a deep breath and walked up a flight of stairs to the original West 72nd Street studio to attend my first Bikram Yoga class. A business colleague had raved about this hot yoga practice and told me it was life changing. He said that it would not only alleviate my stress in the business of representing entertainers and athletes, but I would lose weight, escape from my blackberry and cell phone for an hour and a half and possibly find myself again, after having been somewhat lost for years in the agony (and ecstasy) of living and working in NYC.
So there it began. And 90 minutes later, soaking wet, exhausted and out of breath (and overweight), I was hooked and knew I had found something special. Many of the people that stood near me in that first class are still at the Bikram Yoga NYC studios to this day and I smile each time I see them in class. My most memorable class was on September 12, 2001, the day after the terrorist attacks on NYC. The room was not only filled with sweat, but with heartache, tears, anger and trepidation but most of all there was genuine hope and love for each other, for NYC and for the unfortunate families who lost loved ones. To be embraced by this yoga community on this horrific day was indescribable and it will forever be etched in my mind.
Having Bikram Yoga in my life and being part of the Bikram Yoga NYC community has been rewarding beyond words, not to mention the cosmetic effects of a 30-40 pound weight loss and a daily 105 degree (or more !) facial. This practice has given me balance in my life, kept me on a daily healthy path and taught me spiritual and life lessons that I believe have made me a better human being.
There are too many teachers to thank for guiding me over the 15 years but I must thank my first teachers – Emily Weinberg, Mike McArdle and the incomparable Georgia Ballagian for their inspiration and Donna and Jen for providing this sanctuary for our Bikram practice. I have practiced around the world and it is always great to come home to my (almost) daily practice at Bikram Yoga NYC.
To conclude I must mention my friend and teacher, Kathryn Leary. In her spiritual Bikram class she quotes so eloquently various philosophers and I have taken many of these brilliant statements to heart and they have become personal mantras. I would like to share the following two which have resonated most in my life:
Rumi: “What matters is how quickly you do what your soul directs.”
Buddha: “In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.”
And as for my favorite posture…. that’s easy – party time ! (or any posture when Angela is by my side?).