Heres how it started- In 2002, I attended my first Bikram Yoga class. I thought I was going to die. I also quickly learned that stretchy clothing did not mean men’s bicycle shorts with THE BIGGEST PADDING, and a giant cotton t-shirt. I was pretty water logged to say the least. During that first class a couple of things stand out for me. One, the teacher was unbelievable! How did she remember which way we should turn our heads?! I remember laying there being blown away by the discipline and generosity of the entire class. I loved the structure of the class but was just so overwhelmed by the heat. I seemed to have the realization that I was a mess. My body felt angry at me for letting it get this way, and laying on the floor of that hot smelly sweaty room was when I fully felt it for the first time. The other thing I was struck by was all the talking. I thought to myself, I could never do her job. I couldn’t even begin to imagine myself having to do all that public speaking. After that class, I thanked my friend and stated clearly, this was NOT for me. I appreciated her concern and help, because frankly, I was a mess. I needed to do something to feel better but I was pretty sure this was not it. I had hated heat my whole life!
The next morning after my first class, when I woke up and walked into the kitchen, I swear I was taller. My posture already seemed improved? Really?? I was pretty unhealthy at this time of my life. I was 45lbs overweight, I had migraines almost daily and mothering my 3 year old twins had taken over my entire life. I had friends, but no time of my own. I was on anti-depressants, up to 1600 MG a day of Advil or other pain relievers, which caused stomach issues, and therefore, took prescription strength antacids. My diet choices were all wrong, things weren’t right, I just didn’t know where to start. So, I went back to class that day…and about every day after that. After practicing for about 6 months my dear friend said, “you should go to teacher training, you love this practice, you should try!” I simply replied, “You are crazy!”
Next thing I knew, kids in tow, I was taking Bikram’s class at my first day of the 2003 Spring Teacher Training in Los Angeles. At that point, I had lost 25lbs. But honestly, I hadn’t really gained a lot of awareness. My habits were the same. I had added the yoga, but kept the sugar, the wine, the meds, the unhappy marriage. I kept my mental restraints nice and close to me. I THOUGHT they were my destiny.
Throughout the next 9 weeks of teacher training, I had A LOT of ME time. I spent a lot of time in my head struggling through my mental boundaries. I started realizing the judgements I perceived that others had towards me, were really MY OWN. I wondered, just because I didn’t like me, maybe OTHERS did? Remarkable. Intriguing. Frightening.
That was the beginning for me. Or, THAT beginning, anyways. 🙂
I taught my first class at the Reno studio. WOW I was BAD!! LOL. I finished class 15 minutes early, called the transverse colon the transcending colon and wanted to run from the room with every posture. My drive to help people, and specifically at that time to help kids, was huge. I was motivated, so I just kept teaching and learning. I initially did not go to teacher training to teach adults. My goal was to bring yoga to kids. I wanted kids to have the awareness I didn’t have growing up. I didn’t want kids to struggle as I had. I saw that I had lost an inherent awareness when I was growing up because it wasn’t nurtured and got buried. My yoga practice showed me that I had everything I needed and could begin to bring it back to the surface. My yoga practice was healing deep wounds.
In the first year after my Bikram teacher training, I traveled from San Diego to New York to learn different ways to teach yoga to kids. All the while, I was teaching 10+ Bikram classes per week, and my twins had started kindergarten. At that time, the Truckee studio was unable to make it financially, and I was offered the opportunity to purchase it. The studio was a great place to have kids classes, and suddenly I had a space for kids classes and adult classes in the same building!
So…over the next few years everything changed. A LOT! I got a divorce. I got re-married to an amazing man who is the most supportive and loving husband. I now have four kids, three dogs and a cat…We often refer to our big blended family as the Brady Bunch! I eat food that makes me happy, and most importantly makes my body feel GOOD. I am surrounded by loving supportive people, JBY staff and students have become a family and more. I love walking into the studios and I LOVE stepping onto that podium. I have a lot more patience for everything, but especially myself.
Over the past 11 years, I have focussed my yoga on my physical practice, and then not, and then came back to the physical practice, and then not again. In February of 2004 I did a 30 day challenge. That February changed my life. I decided for that 30 days to not put ANYTHING in my body that was impure. It meant no Advil, no anti-depressants, no alcohol, no sugar, and I was going to practice Bikram yoga every day. In that month I saw my first yoga competition, and witnessed the beauty that was expressed through the yoga postures. It helped me see the postures in the most pure form.
In this segment of my journey, I amicably parted ways with my business partner and dear friend, I purchased two more studios. Sadly, I had to close one of the newly acquired studios a couple of years later, after almost losing everything. After some time, I was blessed with some amazing people who helped me see my vision and together we had some steady forces of wonder making the business sustainable. I was later able to double the Truckee studio space to include a beautiful juice bar! Unfortunately, I was forced to walk away from it almost immediately. But, with a big painful learning experience behind me and a newly enforced love for my community, we were able to open the new Juice Box Yoga (at that time, Bikram Yoga Truckee) just 45 days later.
I have done many challenges over the years, both in the yoga room and out of the yoga room. I have taken way, way more time off the mat at times than I wanted to. Through all of this I have TRIED to maintain the practice that over the last ten years has shown me my strengths and weaknesses, but the harder I tried the harder it got. I’ve tried to come to my mat every day, but over the years that struggle I had wasn’t what I needed to feed my soul. The lessons that I have learned over the years have given me the pure knowledge that Yoga is Everything, and Everything is Yoga. I have learned to see in the mirrors of those juicy rooms that we are all good people just trying to do good things. As I look out from the podium when I teach, I see sweaty faces that I love and that have been there sweating and living their yoga for ten or more years in front of me. I see the steady rocks and foundation of our studios. Just like me they have sought spiritual enlightenment, made new and better choices about food, started ingesting things that help heal, not harm and have created happier friendships and relationships with themselves and others. We have been in our new beautiful Truckee location for three years this fall and I feel so blessed every day I see so many yogis who have been with us for TEN YEARS up there! Our “new” space is such an improvement from our last space, I’m so grateful its sometimes hard to believe. Over our ten years, our KARMA classes have raised over $65,000.00 for organizations and families in our community! We remodelled our Reno studio and extended the schedule to maximum capacity! We have a full time desk staff, and amazing teachers, who LOVE what they do! We, as a team, continue to seek our next way to reach the communities that we love so much. We have hosted Yoga competitions and trained Regional, National and International competitors. We have started our long anticipated retreats!! We have LIVED our YOGA! Locally and now Globally. With your help!
As you see my friends, my loved ones, yoga doesn’t always look perfect. On or off the mat, it never looks like anyone else’s yoga. Sometimes its MESSY! Really MESSY even! Then, after it’s messy, we get back up and do our best…we try again. Drippy, sweaty, humbled, juicy, and happy. Because we can. Thats the beauty of it, and that is where I feel the real yoga begins. Our own yoga begins when we believe and when we do our best. It begins when we laugh when we can, and cry when we need to. When we get raw and get real. When we love. When we live in gratitude, even when its hard. That’s our yoga
I am looking forward to the next ten years, with EXCITEMENT, and with faith. I am looking forward to living my yoga on and off the mat with all of you, Here. There. And EVERYWHERE!! Thanks for always being my best teachers, and thanks for being the BEST JUICY YOGA COMMUNITY ON THE PLANET!!
Sometimes yoga my yoga looks like this…