This week we’re thrilled to feature Bikram Yoga NYC General Manager and Instructor, Lesley Klose!

Lesley has been a New Yorker since 2002, but didn’t discover Bikram Yoga until 2007, when a friend suggested she give it a try.  Knowing that she came from a theater/dance background, he thought it might be “right up her alley.”  Reluctantly she came, but has been hooked ever since.  The rest, as they say, is history.  She started managing for the company in 2010, and finally made it to Teacher Training in the Fall of 2013.  Needless to say, she is thrilled to be part of the BYNYC family!

Here’s a short Question and Answer session we had with Lesley recently:

1) What year did you attend training? Why did you go?  

I went to training in LA in the fall of 2013. I wanted to be a Bikram Teacher almost right away after I started practicing. I fell in love with this practice after my first class and knew shortly thereafter  that I wanted this to be a big part of my life. 

2) What is your favorite thing about being a Bikram Yoga instructor?

Being able to create relationships with clients and watching them change and grow, physically and spiritually with the practice.

3) Tell us about your own practice. Which posture is most challenging for you and how do you get through it?

This has shifted a lot for me over the years.  It is hard to just give one posture.  What was hard for me when I started, is different now and has changed more since I had a baby. Postures that were easy before I was pregnant are now more difficult. I think that’s a big part of the practice. Every day it is different. One day I can do something, the next day I can’t. The key is to just be in the moment, trying my best the right way, breathing through it,  and excepting what it is for the day.

4) You are a new mother. How do you balance being a Bikram Yoga NYC’s General Manager, a mother and wife, with your practice?  

It’s hard. I’m not going to lie about that. I have learned to cherish the time I get to practice and teach as well as my time with my family. It is important to do both. Being a mother has made me more patient as a teacher and has taught me so much, while my practice is making me a better mother. It really does work hand in hand.

5) Do you have a favorite inspirational quote or saying?  

This shifts for me quite frequently as well.  Right now, it is a quote one of the staff members at training used to say. “Trust the process”  This works on so many levels.  In the hot room, it is trusting the practice and the teacher, not worrying about whether it is too hot or to cold.

It also works in life.  The universe has a way of throwing different things at you, so sometimes you have to just trust that things will all work out. I wont say that I always follow that way of thinking, but it is a good thing to try. 

6) What are you currently reading or listening to?

Lots of kids books, kids TV shows, etc. With my new little man at home that is where my focus is these days.

7) Any final words?

I am just so thankful for this practice.  I come from a dance/theatre background and I didn’t know if I would ever find something that I was as passionate about, until I found this.  It really is amazing.

Lynn started practicing Bikram yoga in 2009 as a way to recover from a back injury and, feeling relief in the very first week, never stopped showing up in the hot room. Despite being an athlete her whole life, the yoga gave her a level of strength and a feeling of power over her own health that nothing else did. Wanting to share that experience with others, Lynn attended Teacher Training in 2013 and balances teaching with a full-time job as an editor at a non-profit journalism site.

Q&A with Lynn:

1) What drew you to Bikram yoga?

Back in 2009, I was struggling with a chronic back injury. I had a desk job as an editor for the first time after years of being always on the go as a newspaper reporter. I would sit at my desk and my left hand and foot would go numb. Doctors couldn’t figure it out and physical therapy was useless. So I started investigating ways to heal myself, and a retired judge I know in Los Angeles, Charlie Lee, told me about Bikram yoga. I gave it a try.

2) Was it love at first stretch?

Heavens, no. In my first class, I was a mess. I couldn’t come close to touching my toes. The postures seemed approachable, but like most first-timers, the heat felt like a crazy thing. The only thing I really learned from that first class was that I needed to come back tomorrow to really understand it, and after I slept like a rock that night, I decided I would. The next class was totally different, my body dealt with the heat so much better and within a week, my back was feeling better. I loved that every class was a challenge. I was hooked.

me3) How did you decide to become a teacher?

Well, the only reason I stuck with the yoga was because I had an amazing set of teachers who cared about me and helped me understand it. They led me through a bunch of injuries (my back, pulled hamstrings, temperamental knees, a broken foot) and believed in me even on the days I didn’t believe in myself. They inspired me to pass along the same kind of love to help others through their challenges.

4) What was teacher training like?

I went in the fall of 2013 in Los Angeles, and was so happy to be roommates with Lesley Klose, our lovely Bikram Yoga NYC manager. But I was 47 years old, with lots of injuries in my past, so it was a huge physical challenge to do two classes a day. To top it off, I came down with a case of vertigo in the middle of the nine weeks. But, persevering taught me so much about myself and the feeling of accomplishment after the final class was the most amazing feeling. We ran around like we had just won an Olympic gold medal. It was that exhilarating.

5) Now you teach and balance that and your practice with a full-time career as a journalist. How do you do that?

It’s more of a question of how couldn’t I do it. My practice saves both my body and my sanity, it is 90 (or sometimes 75 or 60) minutes a day just for me. Teaching is my joy. It’s the part of my day in which I am not thinking about myself for even a second because class is 100 percent about the students.

My career is a big part of who I am, and I am lucky to now work as an editor with a fantastic group of people at a journalism non-profit, InsideClimate News. It is important work. My colleagues there won a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting in 2013. We have our fingers crossed for another this year for an investigative series we published in 2015. Root for us!

I am beyond blessed to have a truly patient and devoted husband (who also practices!) and a puppy who reminds me to always live in this moment, just like she does.

6) What has teaching yoga taught you?

It has taught me mostly how to put my whole heart and soul into something without expecting any particular result. You face a whole class of students and you have no idea what’s going on in their lives, what happened in their day. So you just give them everything you have, and you have no idea what’s going to stick, what’s going to resonate with them. You just give it and trust it finds its way through. If you see their postures improve or their concentration get better, great. If not, that’s great too.

7) Do you have any favorite inspirational quotes?

One of my favorites is from Ernest Hemingway:

The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.

Pejman (PJ) Akbari began practicing Bikram Yoga in 2007 when he was suffering from back and neck pain due to years of office work, stress, and misalignment. At that time, he was a full-time professor of Aerospace Engineering in New York City.

After observing so many physical and psychological benefits, PJ quickly evolved his Yoga practice to a high degree and decided to switch his engineering career to become a Bikram Yoga teacher and share this unique practice with other people who are suffering from physical and mental discomfort.

When I am at work, I might not be the best one among my genius colleagues and sometimes I feel vulnerable, but when I am at my mat doing Bikram Yoga, I know I am the best because I am doing the hardest thing in the world!

We sat down with our very own studio owner Jennifer Lobo for a Q&A session about yoga, life and being a busy Mom!

When and why did you start practicing Bikram Yoga?

When I was living in San Francisco in the 90s I was doing a lot of Marathon running, as well as skiing and playing soccer.  Two friends of mine, Sara and Mary Corpening, suggested I try Bikram Yoga as a good way to cross train.  I was hesitant because I had tried yoga many times and found it a little slow for my athletic background.  But after much encouragement, I took my first Bikram Yoga class. I remember the teacher saying “see you tomorrow” when I walked out and I thought she was crazy. But then, about a half an hour later, I felt like I was walking on clouds and my body had never felt lighter and better. So I went to class the next day, and the next day, and the next day. Bikram Yoga became part of my weekly routine and my running became easier and my Marathon times became better. In fact the last one I finished, I felt like I could run another 3 miles, and I was doing more Bikram Yoga than Marathon training!

What is your favorite thing about being a Bikram Yoga Instructor?

This is an easy one and I would say that most of our teachers would say the same.  The best thing about teaching this yoga is the satisfaction of seeing so many people heal injuries, change their bodies and also witness the new calmness that overcomes them in and outside of the room.

Tell us about your own practice

I love taking class as often as I can and I always enjoy class. There is no other time in my life that I can have a period when I do not have to talk, and can just listen and get deep into a moving meditation.

I am not a naturally flexible person so I have worked for every inch of my flexibility and I am a million times more flexible than when I started. I know that I am never going to be the person doing a standing split in the bow pose, but the benefits that I have gained from this practice are incredible, both mentally and physically.  I can now touch my toes easily even with 5 inch heals on with no problem!

This is why I push people who say “I can’t do yoga because I am not flexible.” HOW DO YOU THINK YOU ARE GOING TO GET FLEXIBLE IF YOU DON”T DO YOGA?!?!? People cannot stay on an exercise diet of pounding, running, weights, cycling, etc, without incorporating yoga into their routine. It is not healthy and sustainable as people age, especially in this age of technology and increased use of computers and smart phones.  We can’t hunch all day without some backbends!

You are a mother of three boys.  How do you balance being a business owner, wife and mother with your practice?

This is also an easy one – when I do not take a yoga class, I am not as good a wife, mother or business owner.  After I take a yoga class, I am able to be more efficient in my work, think more clearly and make better decisions.  As a mother and wife, I do not “blow my lid” when things get tough if I have taken a class that day.  From the moment I walk in the door to the time the kids go to bed, it is total chaos.  Then there are soccer practices, hockey games, basketball games, playdates all in between!  If I am about to yell or “lose it” I literally give myself a 1 minute “time out” and walk in another room and do a few pranayama breathing exercises. It really works!

So I make my yoga practice a priority in my life and make sure to try to get 4 classes in during the week. Weekends are reserved for kids’ sports!

What are you currently reading or listening to?

Unfortunately, at this very moment I am not deep into a great novel but hoping January will be a good time to start one.  I have been reading a lot of “The Week” to at least keep myself up on world events and news.  It is a great magazine that summarizes the major events for people who don’t have time to read the paper! For music, Ben Harper is always one of my favorites. I also still love the Grateful Dead and when I hear their music it takes me back to a time of much less responsibility so it’s a great way to relax!  Recently, an Uber driver turned me on to Vis a Vis – great stuff!

Favorite Inspirational Quote –

“You only live once” – so work hard and play hard.

Georgia Balligian has been practicing Bikram Yoga since since January, 1971, a total of 45 years next month.

Georgia graduated from New York University in 1970 with a degree in Film and TV production. Post graduation, she traveled through the South Pacific and ended up out of funds and in Hawaii. Soon she was waitressing in the Wailana Coffee Shop in Honolulu.  As fate would have it, Bikram Choudhury, newly arrived from Tokyo, was teaching his yoga in a small studio in downtown Honolulu.

Georgia’s first class was about 2.5 hours long and had a total of 7 students in it. Everyone was working hard, getting a lot of laughs, encouragement and lots of “tough love.” At the end of class, Georgia tells us, there was the “unforgettable moment.”

Bikram looked at Georgia with an intense, but kind gaze and said “I don’t know what you did in your past life” (yogis believe in reincarnation). “You have no strength, no flexibility, no balance, but, I can fix it. You have to take class every day for 2 months and I will fix you, I will change your life if you trust me.” Georgia went to class every day for nearly 2 years, Bikram “fixed” her, and the magic continues to this day.

Since 1997 she has been teaching non-stop for Bikram Yoga NYC, averaging 9-10 classes a week and we’re so incredibly fortunate to have her amazing spirit and presence at the studio. In closing, she wanted us to pass along this quote:

You’re never too sick, never too old, never too bad, to start from scratch once again. See you in class!

Please take a moment to visit Facebook to see this post, and share a comment with Georgia. We are collecting them all, likes and shares included, and printing out a list for her as a surprise! 

Emily stumbled into her first Bikram Yoga class back in 2005, and she has been practicing ever since.  She is truly grateful for the balance the practice has brought her, both mentally and physically.  The same year that she graduated from Bikram teacher training she co-founded a nonprofit dance organization, and the yoga has been an important part of her life while trying to make artistic work in New York.  Yoga has helped her to both heal and prevent injuries from dancing, to focus on long-term goals rather than short-term difficulties, and to learn how to properly rest both her mind and her body.  While many artists wait tables or work temporary jobs, Emily considers herself truly lucky to teach and finds tremendous inspiration from her students.

Beyond the hot room, she has served as a performer, choreographer, as producer on both the east and west coasts. Her most recent adventure, outside of General Mischief Dance Theatre, was dancing for Weird Al Yankovic.

More on GMDC:

Preview of Mischief's upcoming Performance

A preview of General Mischief's most recent show

Favorite random adventure of 2015:  Dancing in a fun stunt for Improv Everywhere

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Video 2

Emily’s Favorite quote:

The one important thing I have learned over the years is the difference between taking one’s work seriously and taking one’s self seriously. The first is imperative and the second is disastrous.  –Margot Fonteyn 

Currently reading: “Spark – The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain” by Dr. John Ratey

Emily found yoga in college while she was playing basketball for the university of Idaho.  However, it was when she finished her career overseas that she was looking for something to fill the void that yoga became a part of her daily life.

Emily fell in love with yoga as an expression of her love of dance and her love of sports.  Her meditative nature found a home in the quiet movements and focus of practicing the physical exercises of yoga.

As Emily pushed herself to excel in yoga the teacher and nurturer in her person desired to share with those around her.  In Fall of 2008 Emily completed her first training in Acapulco, Mexico with Bikram Yoga.  Since then she has completed trainings with Pure Yoga NYC, the Prenatal Yoga Center and Karma Kids Yoga as well as completing a mentorship with Kay Kay Clivio and a continuing education course with Forrest Yoga Guardian, Erica Mather.

Emily currently lives and teaches yoga in New York City.

Favorite quotes:

Get fascinated with your breath, it is what keeps you alive. – Tanya Boulton

Take a moment of gratitude for this incredible vessel that walks you through life. – KK Clivio

Favorite songs (Follow ‘Emily Faurholt’ on spotify for more great playlists).

Iron & Wine -- The Trapeze Swinger

East Forest - 10 Laws

Currently reading: “Anatomy of the Spirit” by Carolyn Myss

Favorite Prayer/Meditation:

May I be safe
May I be healthy
May I be free from all suffering
May I be truly happy

Born in New York raised in the Bronx, Dionne took her first bikram class in the summer of 2008 at Flatiron. It took her a couple of months to take her second class and now she plans her entire day around yoga. She can’t go a day with out practicing. She fell in love with the yoga’s physical challenges and mental relaxation. She graduated in the fall of 2011. She loves to see students achieve things in that room that they never before thought was possible. She has passion for what she does and believes that everyone can live a healthy and happy life.

Dionne wanted us to pass along this quote she enjoys:

” All great achievements require time. ” ~ Maya Angelou

 You can follow Dionne on Instagram under the handle @spiritualmsd

Lisa began practicing Bikram yoga in 2001 and found that a regular practice resulted in numerous physical and mental benefits. She took a break from the corporate world during the summer of 2004 to attend Bikram’s teacher training in LA. Although she currently works at an asset management firm, she enjoys teaching a few classes a week and finds that doing both brings a sense of balance to her life.

Favorite quote:

To make the right choices in life you have to get in touch with your soul. To do this, you need to experience solitude, which most people are afraid of, because in the silence you hear  the truth and know the solutions – Deepak Chopra

Currently reading:

  • The Mountain Shadow, by Gregory David Roberts…which happens to be the sequel to my favorite book ever, Shantaram

Favorite things, besides yoga (of course):

  • Cooking – working my way through Yotam Ottolenghi’s amazing cookbooks
  • Hiking… both  in upstate NY and around the world…thinking that a trip to Patagonia, Chile is going to be next
  • Wandering… around NYC discovering new restaurants, cute shops and cool street art

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Upcoming Silent Class

This upcoming November 22nd, 5pm at Bikram Yoga NYC Upper East Side, Lisa is leading a Silent Class. Online booking for the class opens on Sunday, November 15th. Important: Students must have taken at least 10 classes in order to participate. 

Lisa’s description of the class:

I think it is a great chance for students to deepen their practice, as they are able to really focus on their breath while in the postures. And really, as New Yorkers, particularly this time of year, everything is so hectic, it’s a nice chance to do something they love in a new and different way.  I always find that in silent classes, students almost intuitively know what to correct/adjust. The classes always seem really calm and peaceful.

Eddie Marco, a native of Miami, Fl., is an accomplished musical theatre performer who has performed all over the United States, as well as abroad. While on tour in Washington, D.C., Eddie was introduced to his first Bikram class and was instantly hooked to this amazing series.

After a few months of steady practice, he decided to head to Bikram’s Yoga World Headquarters in Los Angeles, CA. A graduate of Bikram’s Yoga Fall 2003 Teacher Training, Eddie has taught all over the NY Metro area including South Beach and North Miami.

Some quotes that inspire Eddie:

“The only way to succeed, is to not worry about what anyone else is doing”

“If you do not ask, the answer will always be NO”

“If you do not step forward you will always be in the same place”