Student Stories: Jeniel Bamberg

Jeneil M. Bamberg recently crossed the 1,000 class mark at bodē nyc! We caught up with Jeneil recently to ask her about her experience with us over the years.

When did you start practicing at bode nyc (formerly Bikram Yoga NYC), and why?

I started practicing at bode nyc, formerly Bikram Yoga NYC, around September 2009. I moved to New York City in July 2009, from China via Michigan, or, you could also say, Michigan via China. I’m from Michigan originally, but I had been doing a graduate certificate in China Studies in China from fall 2008 to spring 2009, and went home to Michigan for a few weeks that summer before making the big move to launch a career/experience the big and fabulous US city that is New York. While I was home those few weeks in June 2009, my mother introduced me to Bikram Yoga – fortunately, we had a Bikram Yoga Studio in Traverse City, one of only three Bikram studios in Michigan, at least at the time – and she had been doing it for several months and highly recommended the practice for its detox benefits, as well as weight loss potential. I’ve lived in East Asian countries long-term several times, and I tend to pack on the pounds when I’m there, so weight loss was a top priority for me when I first started Bikram Yoga!

After I moved to NYC, I tried a few Bikram studios around the city, but landed at Bikram Yoga NYC Upper West Side because of its close proximity to my home at the time, and because I found the staff and instructors to be friendly and more chill (a lot more chill! But still challenging) than at other Bikram studios elsewhere in the city.

Who are your favorite teachers and why would you recommend their classes?

My goodness, it is hard to single people out. Correct me if I’m wrong, but all the instructors who teach Bikram Yoga at bode nyc are certified to teach through Bikram Choudhury’s grueling ten-week training process. They are experts at teaching Bikram Yoga. I can’t really speak to the type of instruction that teachers who teach other forms of yoga at the studio get. All the teachers are great. I thank all of my teachers for their guidance throughout the years. That being said…

The ones who have stand out for me in terms of what I have learned over time are Patrick Lynch, Yarrow Kae Buncans, Kathryn Leary, Omri Kleinberger, Emily Vartanian,  Olivia Anselmo, and Chrystine Cooper. Patrick… I mean, he’s famous, right? Who doesn’t know Patrick? Patrick is not afraid to push you really hard in way that he will admit borders on “mean,” but he teaches an amazing class where you grow and change your body. He’s not afraid to admit that we are all “decaying and dying,” but reminds you that this practice is meant to help slow that process. And he’s hilarious. Yarrow is a healer who I have watched over the years find her true calling to heal, it has been absolutely amazing to witness, and she packages her message with this wry and saucy sense of humor that is spot-on what we need. Kathryn is serene, calm and has a healing energy that reaches out and touches you, but she also comes from this business background so she will give you all these amazing motivational quotes in class from thinkers and philosophers throughout the world. Omri is driven to see you get better and push yourself hard in class – he also teaches a class where you feel you need to push to the maximum, and is always thinking of creative ways to teach you something new about the practice or postures, every time. Emily – I love her – I rarely take class with her anymore but she is so intelligent and is hands down one of the most positive people I have ever met, and you need a lot of positivity to get through a Bikram class! Olivia is one of the first instructors who really taught me to start thinking about anatomy, and made me think about how the practice is changing my body from a muscular and skeletal down to the cellular level. Chrystine is who I want to be when I grow up – she’s a boss, she works for a hedge fund by day and teaches Bikram at night, but doesn’t seem to have that “hedge fund” personality – she infuses all her interactions with grace, kindness, humor, and laughter.   

What is it about our classes that keeps you coming back?

Not only have I experienced changes in my body, mind and spirit that have been both subtle and profound throughout the eight or more years that I have spent working on this practice at these studios, but we have built a community, and I feel that I am part of a fellowship. Peni Landisi, another one of my instructors, talks about how young people (and I think people in general nowadays) flit from one thing to another, wherever the newest trend is shiny and attractive – spin class, rowing, whatever. There is nothing wrong with trying something new of course, but commitment and dedication to a Bikram Yoga practice are essential because as any Bikram Yoga instructor will point out, this is meant to be a lifelong practice, where you will never ever experience perfection, but you will always strive to improve and get better, change and grow. Therefore, the community and fellowship that we have built at these studios have been truly magical and the support is what helps keep me going.

Favorite posture? Least favorite posture?

I try not to pick favorites! For the most part they are all challenging, haha.

Has being a regular practitioner of yoga helped your work life?

Oh, so much. I currently work in grant writing for a health center – a quite involved and not always so riveting job. The focus that Bikram Yoga has taught me in the face of challenging and adverse circumstances has been immeasurably helpful in doing detailed technical work, and in breathing through other challenging circumstances in life!

What would you say to someone new who’s unsure if bode nyc is right for them?

Just do it. Do it and stick to it – I hear a lot of people say “I’m not sure if Bikram Yoga (or yoga in general) is for me” but if you can commit and become part of this community and practice, the dividends in improving your body, mind, spirit, and life will be tenfold or more over time!