“I was very depressed in 2011. I had lost my mother unexpectedly in 2003, then I had lost my Grandmother who I was very close to in 2006. My husband and I moved from Whistler back to Maple Ridge, and my husband was away traveling for weeks, sometimes months, at a time. I just really kept going and never really allowed myself time to just reflect on all the changes in my life, which also included having two children. I felt very alone and vacant. I had lost touch with myself and had let myself go physically and mentally. I did not want to share my feelings with anyone because I wanted everyone to think I was strong.”
Michaela saw how Bikram yoga had helped a friend through a difficult period in her life: “I noticed her positive attitude and the strength that it gave her during a difficult time she was going through. I thought to myself, ‘how can she handle what she is going through just by going to yoga?’” She adds, “I understand this now.”
Michaela had tried Bikram yoga in Whistler and immediately loved the challenge, the heat that hit her like a brick wall and the way she slept so deeply after class. She had never felt better, but was unable to continue with Bikram yoga due to injuries from a skiing accident. muses, “Even though I did not continue with Bikram at the time, I knew I would be back and, in the meantime, I continued to tell everyone about it.”
Possibly when this mother of two needed it most, she spotted the newly-opened Bikram Yoga Maple Ridge on January 28th, 2011: “I got home and called my husband right away to tell him that I would be happy if I could just go to yoga. It’s strange, but it was true. I thought of my friend who survived her difficult times by going to Bikram.”
“My first class at BYMR was with Mary; I had forgotten how hot the room was and how difficult it was to breath!” But she immediately felt that this was what she needed: “It was a challenge, and I knew that I needed to continue. I signed up for an auto-renew membership and the 30 day challenge right then and there. My 30 day challenge turned in to 60 days, which turned in to 88 days straight!”
After completing her 60-day challenge, Michaela had lost 30 pound, was very happy and she reports, “everything about me was better, and I had a desire to improve myself, which I had not really cared about before.” The biggest change wasn’t weight loss or reduction in chronic pain, but a change in attitude: “I am not longer critical of things I don’t know about, and I don’t pass judgement anymore. I really admire how much more open minded I have become. I am more confident and I am not self conscious in my own skin.” Michaela notes that she has much more patience and tolerance, while her friends and family claim that Bikram yoga has helped her to find herself again and to be happy.
Speaking of family, Michaela recognizes how lucky she is to have their help in keeping a regular yoga practice. “I am so fortunate to have a loving family who supports me and know how important Bikram yoga is to me. I go to yoga as often as I can; I don’t allow it to interfere with my family life and encourage my family to join me whenever possible. Both of my kids have done the kids yoga classes and my son loves the “real” yoga classes! I feel that if you love something, you will make time for it; this is easier when you have a supportive family like I do.”
Meanwhile, Michaela has found so much strength and happiness in yoga that she has been able to shift the balance in her life, to accommodate yoga, work and family. “I cut my yoga down to 4-5 days a week, and I did not allow myself to feel guilty when going on 2-week breaks for family vacations.”
Michaela plans to never quit her yoga practice, with specific yoga goals of one day doing the standing splits and to feel “a little bit comfortable” in standing head to knee. She also aims to enjoy the floor series more: “I actually really don’t like it, but I know is good for me. I almost feel like I am starting to like it – but just a little bit!”
She has made huge strides physically as well: “I never thought that I would be able to touch my toes or even balance on one leg! I also never thought I would wake up without saying ‘oh, my back!’”
Perhaps this is part of the reason that Michaela whole-heartedly loves her job as customer sales representative with Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy for New Drivers. But mostly she loves her family, friends, family and “yoga family”. “I love Bikram Yoga. Sometimes I feel like it is an obsession, but when something makes you feel this good and your mood affects others in a positive way, why not keep going back for more? I really try to introduce Bikram yoga to all my friends and family… including my children (Alex, 9, and Sofia, 8).