Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Nicole Page Kennedy: Life after Bikram

I am not entirely sure how to begin this 'blog',  I am writing to share my experiences with others, and also writing for myself. Hmm. I have never written a blog before. Well I suppose I will start like any story does, with a beginning (and yes it is going to be a novel). My name is Nicole Kennedy, most of you know me as 'Nikki'. I am twenty years old and a full time Bikram yogi! My love affair with Bikram Yoga began on Monday, January 18th 2010 at 6:00 in the morning, when I walked up the stairs at Bikram Yoga Langley to take my very first hot yoga class. I had heard the wonders of how good 'hot yoga' was for you, but really that was all, I thought to myself "how hard could it be?" Let me tell you, it was very hard. For those of you who have never taken a Bikram Yoga class before, let me break it down like this: Bikram Yoga is a series of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises practiced in a room heated to 41 degrees Celsius (or approximately 105 degrees Fahrenheit) with a humidity level of 40-50%. You are probably thinking it sounds crazy, and it is, but don't worry, we already know that. I was told as a goal for my first class I was to try to stay in the hot room and just breath. By the middle of the floor series (the first half of the class is standing postures, the last half is lying down) I put my hand up, the teacher came over to me and I said "I think I am going to be sick" the teacher whispered back it was okay that I step out of the room. I didn't get sick, however I started crying; I had no idea why. I wasn't sad, I wasn't even in pain. I got myself together and somehow managed to get back onto my mat. I asked the teacher after class why I started crying when I left the room, she told me that our muscles retain emotion, and we when bend and stretch ourselves in ways we haven't in a really long time, or ever, that those emotions are released, and sometimes they come out in our tears. She said I should continue to practice this yoga and come back as soon as possible, so that whatever I was holding onto, I could let it go. Hold on, I thought this was a yoga class, not a therapy session? However I was back on the mat the very next morning, and 3 more mornings after that. After 5 classes or so I started to get used to the heat, recognize the order the postures went in and become familiar with how to get in and out of them properly, but what really kept me coming back was how amazing I felt after wards. A 1 month introductory package turned into a membership at Bikram Yoga Langley, and shortly after that a dear friend offered me her position as a receptionist at the studio, we had spoken several times about how my current job was an unhealthy, unhappy place to work; she was moving on to build a life with her fiance and said I should apply to take her place. Three interviews later, the job was mine. I had fallen in love with Bikram Yoga, and now I got to work there! In 3 short months Bikram had changed my body (a little bit), my sleeping and eating patterns and my overall happiness, I was a more balanced respectful person to not only myself, but my family, friends and everyone around me. The more I learned about this yoga, the more I practiced this yoga turned into me wanting to share this yoga, and I did. I had my mom and my dad in the studio practicing on a regular basis, I even managed to talk my brothers into trying it (okay, truth be told I pretty much had to force them, but they still came a few times). I was always talking about Bikram Yoga! I had the best job in the world, I loved going to work and being at work, because all day everyday it was yogayogayoga. About 5 months into my practice I started to see myself in the mirror in a different way (Bikram Yoga is practiced while looking at yourself in the mirror), this way was that I was flexible, I was really really flexible. My entire life I had never joined an organized sports team (outside of school Rugby which I was terrible at), danced, done gymnastics, nothing. I had  always been active and healthy, I just didn't have a "thing". When I told this to my studio owner when she asked why I was so flexible she said "Well, Bikram Yoga is your 'thing' now!" she said I should even compete in a yoga competition next year, I thought to myself "yeah, right". The more I practiced, the more flexible I got, one day I saw a picture of an advanced posture and I thought "I could do that", I asked a teacher if she could show me, and sure enough, I bent my body backwards in half, I looked like a coffee table, or what we yogi's call "full camel". With my own personal changes to my body I was seeing, I was also witnessing changes to other peoples too, lots of other people. Working at the front desk everyday I got to witness miracles walk in and out of the door, everyone with their own stories, their own pain and their own goals to heal. One day a deep thought crossed my mind when talking to a student who had lost almost 50 pounds, totally rid of her chronic body pain (and she had a lot of it) and done a 180 on her overall happiness, I thought "working the front desk at a Bikram studio isn't the best job in the world... Being a teacher would be the best job in the world". I asked all about Teacher Training to every teacher I came across, the more I heard, the more I wanted it. I had always wanted to help people as a profession one day, having studied 2 years of Substance Abuse Counseling and struggling with the emotional burden of the course load, I decided I wasn't emotionally mature enough to handle it, yet. At that same time the idea of Teacher Training was becoming more and more real. With months of physical preparation, hours of paperwork and applications, a little help from the bank and a lot of help from my family, friends and teachers, I sent my complete TT application for the 37th Bikram Yoga Teacher Training Session. Not too soon after I got confirmation of acceptance, I was in. On April 15th 2011 I will depart for Los Angeles to begin my TT journey, for those of you interested in following me, I invite you on the journey to share it with me. Namaste.

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