It’s Student of the Month time at Bikram Yoga Natick, and I couldn’t be more excited about January’s feature! This month we interviewed Jeff Gleason, a longtime Bikram Yoga practitioner who has, hands down, the best advice for new students I have ever heard! If you practice at BYN, you’ve likely been in class with Jeff, and you’ll recognize him as the yogi who actually can touch the ceiling!
Check out his full interview below.
BYN: When did you start practicing Bikram Yoga and what brought you into the hot room for the first time?
Jeff: I started about ten years ago; I had stopped running, cycling, spinning because of knee injuries and I was looking for a way to lose weight and feel better.
BYN: At the beginning of your practice, what was the most challenging thing about Bikram Yoga?
Jeff: I think this is a bit of a trick question and I’m still searching for the answer. When I first started I would have said breathing. Today, I would say being present in the class. One of the things that I love about the process is that it pushes you for the full the 90 minutes to look at the connection between your mind and body. When I can stay with the instruction, and be present in the moment, I find my breathing flows naturally. Every day is different, most days I find myself trying to catch up with my breadth. The journey continues.
BYN: What has been the greatest benefit (or benefits!) you’ve received from your yoga practice?
Jeff: Physically the benefits are tremendous – I feel great, can do things like hiking, dancing, cross country skiing with an energy level that I hadn’t felt in years. But by far the biggest benefit is emotional. Before Bikram I did a lot of sitting meditation which I found incredibly useful. Bikram takes meditation to a different level allowing you to engage your body and challenging you for 90 minutes to truly be present.
BYN: You’re no stranger to having suffered an injury. How has Bikram Yoga affected your injury and recovery?
Jeff: I will never run, cycle or spin again, all of which I loved, but I feel as fit now as I ever have. The biggest surprise to me has been golf. I don’t know how or why Bikram does it, but my knee no longer swell’s up and I no longer need a brace.
BYN: Tell us a little bit more about your life outside the hot room, and how you bring your yoga with you into every day life?
Jeff: I love what I do for a living but at times it brings a lot of deadlines and stress. Finding the time, whether at Bikram Natick or at a studio on the road, 90 minutes of Bikram always shoots me out recharged and ready to roll.
BYN: What advice would you give to new students just starting out with Bikram Yoga?
Jeff: It is going to hurt at first, but not for long. Commit to going 3 times a week for 3 weeks, and you’ll never turn back. Any insecurities you have about walking into class – throw them out the window. There is nothing but support and encouragement at Bikram Yoga Natick. Zero judgement. Drink Water, Breathe, when you feel overwhelmed – stop and rest, you’ll know when your ready to jump back in.
Jeff stretching up in Half Moon Pose – touching the ceiling!