This fall I will have been practicing Bikram Yoga for 8 years. Now there were some breaks in there and I certainly was not always a 5 to 6 class a week person, but in 2005 for some reason I decided to give the hot room a go. Back then yoga wasn’t half as popular as it is now. And there certainly was not an array of hot yoga classes to choose from – no heated Vinyasa Flow, Hot Power Fusion, or Heated Yoga Sculpt. There was Bikram Yoga.
The week before I had seen a newscast about hot yoga and as I watched it seemed super intense. I marveled at the amount of sweat dripping off of the practitioners as the interviewer asked them questions about the practice. Having just moved back to Chicagoland and stumbling upon a Bikram studio when I was out on a walk with my husband, I thought, “Why not?” and showed up for an evening class.
I still remember exactly what I was wearing and where I had set up in the room. My first teacher was tough but encouraging and I walked out of there thinking it was a great practice. I would go back when I could.
For the first year I would show up at the studio on and off. As I was continually traveling from acting gig to acting gig I would go when my schedule permitted. If I was in town, had no dance or acting class downtown and my husband was busy at night I would go get my sweat on.
Then my husband wanted to try yoga. So I took him with me one night and he was hooked. For the next couple of years we went together almost every evening we could. He was actually practicing more than me as he was recovering from a running injury and when I was out of town he’d be at the studio practically everyday.
But then he grew bored with it. And as his practice dwindled I decided to take a break from Bikram and try other yoga styles. For a year and a half I tried every other studio in the area. But it wasn’t the same. No heat. No way to track your improvement. Having teachers adjust me instead of adjusting myself. Wondering what we would be working on that day instead of working on the entire body. I just never fell in love.
So I returned to the Bikram studio. And within the first breath of Pranayama Breathing I knew this was the yoga practice for me. Within the next couple of years I was always at the studio. I’d squeeze it in before or after auditions. If I got stuck downtown I’d get a class in if I could. If acting and performing were my first love, Bikram Yoga was suddenly becoming the obsession I could not live without.
People often would tell me that I should go to Teacher Training. This always made me laugh. If they knew me at all they knew I would never give up the stage. I was living my childhood dream – why would anyone give that up? If I was supposed to go to Teacher Training I knew that there would be a moment when everything got out of the way and there would be no doubt that that is exactly where I was supposed to be. This would probably happen in another 10 years, maybe in my forties, I would tell myself.
But then the oddest thing happened. I opened my eyes after final Savasana one day and realized there was just one other woman left in the room. I had seen her at the studio a couple of times over the last couple of weeks, but really did not know her at all. As I was collecting my things she stopped me and asked if I could help her with Standing Bow Pulling Pose. “I really just don’t get it and you seem to. Can you walk me through it?” I was a bit reluctant as I was not a teacher, but I was able to correct her posture and answer her questions. “Have a teacher look at it when you can,” I told her, “I’m no expert, just someone that’s been practicing for awhile.”
That night at dinner with my husband I told him about my encounter. I was on such a high from seeing her posture improve with just a few simple words I could barely contain myself. After listening to my latest Bikram story my husband looked me dead in the eye and said, “Babe, you really just need to go to training. Do you realize you barely talk about being on stage or auditioning anymore? It’s yoga, yoga, yoga, 24/7 with you. Maybe it’s time for a change.”
I was stunned. My husband and I have been together since I was 18 and he was 22. We grew up together throughout our 20s and nobody knows me better than him. I brushed off his words though and said maybe I’d think about it.
Over the next couple of weeks I started to think about teaching more and more. How cool would it be to watch others fall in love with the practice that had brought me so much joy? To witness others healing themselves emotionally, physically, mentally everyday, might actually be more fun than nailing that next audition.
When I admitted to my husband that I wanted to go to training that Fall, announcing it to him and the Universe, it happened exactly the way I knew it always would. Everything got out of my way. It was almost as if a neon sign dropped out of the sky pointing an arrow in the direction of Bikram Yoga Teacher Training. This is what I was supposed to do in that moment.
I am often asked how could I give up on performing. But I never thought of it as giving up. I just made a different choice. I decided to listen to what was truly bringing me joy in my life and follow that to see where it would take me. And you never know – it might lead me back to the stage and it might not. Life is long. We’ve just decided to think of it as being short and fleeting. There is time to make changes, new choices, and experience whatever we dream. If you truly listen to your heart you will always end up on the path to your next great adventure.
Have you ever had a sign or some sort of intuition that led you to making a life change?
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