Fifteen years ago, Tanya Rose Bordner was thirty six-years-old and forty-five pounds over-weight.
“I didn’t notice it, I didn’t feel like I was depressed,” Bordner said. “It started to come out physiologically. I started to have really bad dizzy spells where I couldn’t lift my head without feeling like my head wasn’t attached to my body. [I had] major bouts of vertigo. My ex was a doctor; super medicating was too easy of a ‘solution’. The dizziness went away and I started getting bigger with the medicine. The headaches were constant. I was taking up to sixteen hundred milligrams of Advil a day. It was four Advil and then four hours later four more Advil. It was horrifying.”
Ever since Bordner was a little girl she had one simple dream, one that was a stark difference from her reality.
“I wanted to be barefoot,” Bordner said. “I’m sure my parents were like, ‘Whoo, you’re going to be something.’ ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ ‘Be barefoot.’ They were like ‘Awesome, you’re going to be successful.’ That’s all I wanted.”
She had lost herself.
“So, I took my first class,” Bordner said.
The answer is in the mirror.
Mirrors reflect the changes being made in the hot, humid room. Colorful yoga mats lay on the floor covered with towels catching one drop of sweat after the next. Juice Box yogis are shaping their futures right before their own eyes.
The room is always one hundred and five degrees; the same twenty-six postures are always performed.
The room is silent; minds are jumbled.
Yet yogis come to peace.
Knees are locked, spines are twisted and minds are focused.
“[In Bikram yoga] we never change the postures so what changes is the person,” Bordner, now the owner and director of Juice Box Yoga, said. “You come in one day and standing head to knee is totally non accessible to you; after twenty classes you come in and you grab your foot for the first time and you know it was you. It wasn’t because you did a different posture or because the sequence was different. It’s you.”
Ninety minutes come and go.
Hot 60 is a spin-off of the Bikram series.
Rather than ninety minutes, it’s sixty.
Rather than two sets of each posture there is often only one.
“Back in the day people didn’t have many options; they carved out that ninety minutes [from] their day,” Bordner said. “That was before text messaging and before Facebook; before what now keeps us so busy and so interactive with a moments’ notice and spontaneity. People didn’t have somebody calling them or somebody text messaging them, ‘Oh let’s go out for a beer,’ or ‘Let’s go to the movies,’ or ‘Hey, my kid is sick,’ or ‘My dog ran away,’ or whatever it is. Technology has changed everything. It has changed our ability to give ourselves the time for ourselves.”
Sixty minutes. One series. One self.
Like Hot 60, Vinyasa Power Fusion has set sequences that yogis will one day feel accomplished in.
Yogis begin class with child’s pose; yogis imagine themselves in the here and now within the four corners of their mat.
Yogis flow. Yogis sweat.
Yogis fall on their faces, a block catching them mid-air as they attempt their first arm balance.
“I love having the playful atmosphere,” Bordner said. “We play music, we crack up, we fall on our faces, we fall on blocks [and] we chat. I say we are going to have a new sequence today and people heckle me. It’s a totally different jam.”
After just a few classes and countless drops of sweat yogis are crow-ing and cow-ing.
The flow changes; new postures and arm balances are added.
Like Vinyasa Power Fusion, Hot Pilates has an ever changing sequence.
Savasana, hip raises, butterfly crunches, kayaks, toe touches, right side plank, hip dips, swimmers, forearm planks, superman, grasshoppers, left side plank, Pilates crunches, frog squats, plie squats, plie squat pulses, burpees, push-ups, mountain climbers, donkey kicks, leg lifts, cat and cow, spine twists, child’s pose and savasana.
“Work, work, work, work, work, work,” blasts from the speakers.
Yogis’ hearts race and their muscles burn.
Hot Pilates is high intensity interval training with low impact. Like Bikram yoga, it is performed in a hot room to prevent pulling or hurting a cold muscle, Bordner explained.
Unlike Bikram yoga, Hot Pilates changes constantly.
“I start changing my sequence at about a week mark,” Bordner said. “By ten to fourteen days it’s totally different. But I like to see everyone seeing that after a week you’ve gotten stronger doing those sequences. I keep some of them in as I introduce the new ones so you can see ‘Oh, these are new muscles; this is harder.’”
Savasana is welcomed after sixty minutes of sweat and determination.
Warm and Mellow is one long savasana; it is unlike any other class at Juice Box Yoga.
It is warm and mellow.
It isn’t hot and sweaty.
It isn’t a jammin’ squat party.
It is a glorified nap.
Yogis stretch and breathe.
Hips are opened and spines are gently twisted.
“We do everything from butterfly to child’s pose to sleeping pigeon to cow face to lizard,” Bordner said. “It’s relaxing.”
Every yogi can find their home at Juice Box Yoga.
WATER, WATER, WATER
The faces of yogis, young and old, scream determination as they reach the cool down. Their bodies glisten in sweat, head to toe. They reach for their lavender towel and drape it over their face.
Sweating keeps yogis young. Detoxing the largest organ in the body, the skin, is the fountain of youth in the yoga world. Bordner said each posture that turns the body upside down gets blood pumping to the face and into the skin encouraging youthfulness.
“Turning upside down and sweating is really amazing for youthfulness,” Bordner said. “We are an upright society because we are human. We don’t turn upside down, we don’t hang upside down; we aren’t possums. However, if we did hang upside down, and when we do, it’s really good.”
With all the toxins dripping out of the pours of the skin, the body craves rehydration.
Hydration is personal: some drink green juices, some drink watermelon juice and some guzzle water. No matter what, yogis are rehydrating.
“The best part about hydration in Bikram yoga is if you’re not a water drinker, you’ll become one,” Bordner said. “I was not a water drinker. Doing Bikram yoga I just can’t get enough water. Doing Hot Pilates, I’m like, ‘Oh my god, water, water, water.’”
The urge to drink is a risk of these hot practices. A thesis from the University of Wisconsin La-Crosse College of Exercise and Sport Science Clinical Exercise Physiology explained that due to the hot environment, beginners may experience dizziness, nausea and passing out.
If yogis push themselves too far in these conditions, results will be disappointing.
“I would say that the negative aspect of [these hot practices] is when people push themselves too hard,” Bordner said. “When you let the ego get involved in your practice or you bring it into the yoga room or onto your mat those are the times when I have seen it. I’ve had a student who did over four hundred classes for Guinness Book of World Records and their body didn’t change at all and it was really sad to me. It was because they came into the room every day and the only thing they cared about was making that number happen.”
SPRINKLING FAIRY DUST
Both hot practices revolve around spinal articulation. The spine is curved and bent in every direction during the sixty or ninety minute class, bringing the spine back into alignment after years of compensation. These movements allow spinal fluid to move through the body positively effecting the brain, Bordner explained.
“I mean everything, EVERYHTING: leg, knee, shoulder, back, head, heart, I’ve seen it all healed in that room,” Bordner said. “It’s not like we are sprinkling fairy dust on them. When people are hurt and they are like, ‘I can’t.’ I’m like, ‘Yes, you can. You really can.’”
The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine confirms the beneficial effects Bikram yoga has on chronic health conditions. In the journal’s study, thirty-seven percent of participants reported a reduction in pain.
With decreasing pain levels, sleep comes easier to some yogis.
“The transformation of people who are in chronic pain that come to this practice is unbelievable,” Bordner said. “I’ve had students that have come to me like ‘I sleep one hour a night maximum because I am in so much pain. I have to sleep sitting up, I have to basically stand to get any rest.’ Then they come in and like one class, two classes, and they notice a difference.”
The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found fifty-five percent of study participants had a reduction in fatigue and twenty-five percent faced less sleep disturbance.
IF I CAN BREATHE IN CAMEL, I CAN BREATHE IN ANYTHING
“Stress just gets sweat away,” Bordner said. “You can’t be stressed out and do Bikram or you’ll kill yourself. You start to learn that if it’s like that in Bikram, what’s it like when I’m driving through the spaghetti bowl? You start to realize well, if I can breathe in camel, I can breathe in anything.”
As the stress drips away, life comes into focus.
“Without focus you couldn’t do a yoga posture,” Bordner said. “If you’re wobbling, look at one spot, and it’s really hard to fall over, but if you look around you’re going to fall over. What I’ve found is that when you train yourself in [the yoga room] it affects everything else you do: ‘Oh my god, my golf game is so much better.’ Or ‘Oh my god, my cycling is so much better.’ You learn to focus, you go back to your yoga practice, and you look at one spot.”
With ninety minutes to stare into the mirror the truth comes out. There is nowhere to hide.
“Relationships change,” Bordner said. “I’ve seen a lot of divorces through yoga. I’ve seen a lot of people change. You start to realize, ‘That doesn’t work for me. I want to be respected more. I want to have more happier, positive interactions. I don’t like that communication. You’re not going to change. You don’t believe in what I do.’ Those things become very real and apparent in your yoga practice because you really start to believe in yourself.”
Believe in yourself. Love yourself.
Bordner just turned fifty-years-old.
“I started to realize how much of me I had let go.”
“Like for four years I had left my body and traveled around Europe and around the world and then come home,” Bordner said. “I would have pulled up to my house and it would have been an amazingly emotional experience. That’s what it was like for me. It was like I came home and there were weeds growing, the rocks were out of place, and it was a shit storm. The dogs are out and nobody has picked up the poop in three years. It was like, ‘Whoa! I got some shit to handle. But I’m home.’ When you leave your body for so long it’s just like going on a trip and coming home. No matter how much work there is to do it’s still so good to be home. That’s how I felt.”
Fourteen years after “coming home,” Bordner has lost weight, her migraines have dramatically lessened and she is re-married.
Today Bordner walks around her two studios barefoot.