On a cold day in November 2010, two friends separately mentioned that the Bikram Yoga studio in town was starting a 30 day challenge. I thought, ‘yoga!’ No problem, love it, need to push myself, totally can do it. Um, it’s hot in there-right?

I had no idea that the psyche was capable of so much swearing! That first month taught more about discipline, hydration and connection than I’d ever known. Having been a stay at home mom for four years in Newfoundland, I’d recently moved to the Valley, aching to find a community within a community that provided mental and physical health benefits. The first week of the challenge was wrought with a bubbling mess of unearthing balance-not just in body but in mind. As much as I resisted, I knew there was something special about the endless amount of positivity that the teachers and other practitioners provided. Besides, in addition to having discovered the game changing benefits of electrolytes, there was the idiosyncratic gratification of placing a sticker on the wall beside my name after each class. The hug of that hot room was and still is a comforting place where the outside world melts off, guaranteeing a certain euphoria to carry the rest of the day.

I knew I’d found my place.

A year later, I was working at the front desk and coming to practice on a regular basis. The beauty of what happens in the room came full circle when I photographed some of the Bikram Yoga classes. There, I had a chance to stand back and understand that others were experiencing their own versions of awareness, struggle, power and peace. The result of which was moments of captured collective, yet individual efforts: a very powerful thing.

My yoga shorts and tank top collection grew as the years, challenges, posture clinics and yoga marathons went by. Just as I was thinking of needing an extra closet for water bottles and hair ties, the studio started offering HIIT and Barre classes. Even though I was super busy with mommying, full time school and work, the studio became my fuel. I began rotating all of the classes into my schedule, knowing that, even in the heat of the summer I could jump into the river or ocean afterwards and feel blissed out and cooled down. Little did I know that I was also pregnant! By this time I’d begun training to become a Barre instructor. The real revelation came after teaching my first class. It seemed a natural progression to be able to give back some of what I’d learned since first walking past the open sign at the Bikram Yoga studio (now known simply as just “thestudio“) doors. From shyly approaching the woman behind the desk who was sporting odd looking side stringed short shorts to feeling like I’ve come home, I am so proud to be part of the studio that has helped me realize the strength that I’ve had all along!

I wonder sometimes how many accumulated hours I’ve spent in that room, during which infinite thoughts have passed through my mind. In seven years, how many liters of sweat has my body released and how many vats of that coconut water have I drunk? And, really, how many Barre socks are too many Barre socks? It’s only now, at 43 years old, as I still practice and take classes in my seventh month of pregnancy, that I know how healthy I am-even more so than when I was pregnant with my daughter 10 years ago.

To strength in community and dynamism in self!

xo Suz