practicing peace of mind

December Student of the Month: Katie VanderVelde


Katie has just celebrated her 10-year anniversary of practicing Bikram yoga! She started her practice at a small studio in Lawrence, KS (the only studio in the whole state!) and it has traveled with her to all of the cities she has lived in since - San Francisco, Aspen, Kansas City, and now Phoenix for the past two years. Katie found Bikram Yoga when she was looking for an exercise where she could sweat and get a good workout in. She has since stuck with the practice because “I found something that taught me how to breathe, to cultivate peace of mind, and to let go just enough to unveil my own physical, mental, and spiritual potential,” she says.

Although she does enjoy other types of yoga and exercise classes, she has not found one that has made her feel quite like Bikram Yoga does. “The ‘feeling’ is hard to describe,” she says. She goes on to say, “I enjoy the sweat and the challenge, but I also love the hour and a half of silence. It's my meditation, exercise, detoxification, and therapy session all rolled into one - and there is no other way to get that all in 90 minutes!”

Katie has just recently given birth to a beautiful baby girl, Anna, on September 26th and practiced Bikram Yoga regularly (at least three times a week) throughout her entire pregnancy! She says, “Yoga helped me through all the aches and pains (both musculoskeletal and mental) from hormonal changes and a growing baby.”

Katie recently returned to Bikram yoga after taking two months off following the birth of her daughter. She says that her first class back after her birth was more challenging than her first ever Bikram yoga class stating, “my legs shook in every posture and my mind was racing the entire time... but as always, I left feeling better then I did before I got there!”

When asked what advice she would give to a new student, Katie says, “Follow the words. The words are designed for everyone. If you ever fall out of a posture or your mind falls off track, just listen and try to follow the words! You never know what your body is capable of.”

5 Benefits of Bikram Yoga:

5) You learn to love water - you will have a moment when you think "this water is the best tasting water I have ever had in my life!"

4) You don't get bothered by a little sweat (great benefit when you live in the desert)

3) Your muscles and joints are more mobile... and you can do more of the other things you love like hiking, running, biking, etc.

2) You learn to love yourself... when you spend 90 minutes staring at yourself in a mirror.

1) People want to be around you (after class). You always leave the room a better person, calmer with a clearer mind.

Can Anything Steal Your Peace?

By Nicole Deacon

“If anyone can make you angry, upset, take your peace away from you, you are the loser.”  -- Bikram Choudhury

What Bikram?  Come again?  If someone else does something that makes me angry or upset aren’t THEY the jerk?  What do you mean I am the loser?

We cannot control what other people do, say, and feel; but we can control what we do, say, and feel.  When someone does something that makes us upset, it is easy to blame them and easy to think that if they would just do what we want that we would be happy.  There is a great saying, “Resentment is like drinking poison hoping the other person is going to die.”  This is what Bikram is saying.  When we have negative feelings towards someone else, whether they deserve it or not, it is not them that suffers, it is us.  When someone cuts you off in traffic and you get mad… they may never know it… it doesn’t really affect them, but it does affect you.  You could be having the best day of your life, someone cuts you off in traffic or says something mean to you, and then you are having the worst day.

One of the most important lessons I have learned from Bikram is to “let nothing steal your peace away from you.”  That’s one of the reasons this yoga is so great.  You are in a HOT room, with florescent lights, smelly carpet, looking at your imperfect reflection in the mirror, a teacher with a microphone is yelling at you to do more, your mind yelling at you to quit, the person next to you is driving you crazy, and then what…. you find a way to breathe in the chaos.  Despite everything going on around you, you let none of it take away your peace of mind.  It starts in the yoga room for 90 minutes at a time, but then before you know it…. You’re more patient in traffic, kinder to your kids; little things don’t set you off as easily.  Little by little the yoga starts to make its way into your everyday life.

One of my favorite stories is about a mom who had taken a few months break from the yoga.  When she walked in the door after being gone, she looked up at us with this sad face and said, “My kids sent me back to yoga.  They said I was a better mom- more patient, less moody.”

During the Holiday season I find the yoga to be more important than ever.  With added stress and added time with family it is a good test to see…. Can anything or anyone steal my peace?  When I’m not doing class regularly, my answer is YES, so I make it a point to go to yoga.  When I’m done with yoga I feel stronger, more centered, more stable, more peaceful.

Happy Holidays.  May nothing steal your peace away.