Kat Kelley-Chung
Director

I have always dreamed of opening a yoga studio since teaching my first Hatha Yoga class in December 2001. My very first student, Nancy, said to me, “I am 70 years old. I have tried all kinds of stuff and people keep saying they are going to fix me. Are you going to fix me?” Thinking to myself, “Wow, this is not what I expected in a yoga student”, I replied, “What’s wrong with you?” She laughed, slapped me on the back and said she thought we would get along great. We did, but after six months, Nancy decided she wanted to try something else. She had noticed some positive change with the yoga, she seemed more relaxed and her body had opened up in ways she had not expected, but it was not happening fast enough. Nancy wanted to be “fixed”. I was very sad when Nancy left. This relationship, as well as all my various students and classes proved to be as much a part of my training as the actual course work. My dream of a studio had become eclipsed with the exploration of teaching.

I had been teaching yoga for about three years when I discovered Bikram and was hooked. I really came to appreciate (and witness in others) the rapid effect Bikram yoga has on the body and mind. In April 2005, after nine months of watching this yoga “fix” people, I left for Los Angeles to endure the nine week long teacher training at Bikram Yoga College of India. My hope was to someday bring this yoga to my hometown; my dream had resurfaced. I started teaching Bikram Yoga the day after I got back from training. I have taught at most of the Maryland studios and have received so much support from the Bikram community here. It has been really heartwarming.

My journey continues to unfold, sometimes in the most surprising and mysterious ways. My practice has gone through many twists and turns. I continue to seek the balance of effort and ease, both in my practice and in my life. Teaching yoga is as therapeutic for me as the practice itself.

Bringing the dream I had almost eight years ago to life has been a long, arduous process, even so, whatever I have needed along the way the universe has presented. I am so proud to finally announce the opening of Bikram Yoga Columbia! I look forward to seeing your “happy, smiling face”, at our studio!

Love, Light & Laughter!

Edward RobinsonEdward Robinson
We know how rewarding that yoga is on an emotional and physical level, but sometimes in certain groups, you might notice the opposite perception. Of course, this yoga is for everyone and I want to be a part of that; a good ambassador. I love the fact that teaching is never the same. Every group, every collection of students, every class time, every bit of energy, even the attitudes of experienced students change from day to day and class to class.

I appreciate the challenge of presenting this yoga even though the environment and the needs of the student are changing. Anyone who’s leading a class needs to be able to adapt quickly. If you maintain a regular practice your body is always changing, and all the factors in your day-to-day life are changing, and all these things work in concert to build a stronger resolve and a stronger practice.

If a student’s practice is ever boring, I would suggest that the student look inward. Because there’s nothing about the 26 postures and two breathing exercises that when applied, should ever give the same outcome. My hope for students is to safely help them achieve balance, self-awareness, and an urgency to want to try hard.

Martha Lemus
My sister was in the hospital with cancer the year I started practicing Bikram yoga. It was a rough year, and the yoga was the only thing that made me feel better spiritually and emotionally.  Not only did I get more flexible, it spiritually helped me deal with so many things in my life. I had never done any type of yoga before, and when I started it just made me feel stronger, and gave me a happiness that I never really had in my life before.
    
I love anything that has to do with the mind, body and spirit, and helping people has always been a passion. To me it’s about more than just the body, it’s mental and the spiritual. When I practice, I feel stronger and flexible, and in my mind I feel more confident and peaceful. I tell my students that when they come with an open heart and open mind then that’s what they’ll receive.  

Working with people and helping others is my passion; it’s my biggest goal in life. Every time I teach, it’s my main goal to give the students the same feeling that I feel when I practice. My favorite part of teaching is helping others feel better.
Courtney Turner

I found Bikram on a whim. I was looking for another kind of yoga, and I came in to BYC one day, took a class, saw it was what I was looking for, and I’ve been coming ever since.

What I like most about Bikram is the element of discipline, the element of speed and the aerobic level, and the recovery that’s built into the sequence. As an athlete I really enjoyed that and it suited the way I had been trained for 17 years.

This yoga really does match how I feel that the body should be treated and worked with. I don’t believe the the body should be pushed or stretched beyond where it’s meant to go. Some yoga that I’ve practiced, I feel that even though I was a gymnast, they were really emphasizing wrapping my leg around my head like I’m eight years old. My body is not eight.

In Bikram, it’s you and your ego, so who’s going to win? Some days your body is not willing to push beyond where it is, and you have to honor your body. If you do, it will respond in kind. That’s how I feel the body should be respected and how it should be trained.

When I’m teaching, I love seeing someone brand new come in and watching them progress over time. They go from a person wondering, ‘what in the world is this?’; then six months down the road they have confidence and they’re standing in the front of the class, they’re helping other people in the studio. I love that transformation of the person and the pride that they have.

 

Cathy Poulin
It took me a long time to come to yoga.  My first three cars were totaled, and I felt as though nothing would help me recover.  I was at a point where I would have done anything to make my back stop hurting.  Then I bought a year’s subscription to a randomly picked out magazine from three teenagers at my door who were raising money to go on vacation.  It was a yoga magazine.  After a year of not reading the yoga magazine, and many suggestions from several yogis and yoginis (that I had surrounded myself with) to try yoga, I realized that maybe I was afraid to find out if yoga would work for me or not.
 
When I went to my first yoga class at Bikram Yoga Columbia (BYC), I began to feel some hope.  After class, I purchased a year’s worth of classes, knowing that I would not give up because I had committed myself.  Slowly, the pain and tension began this ongoing process of melting away.
 
About two and a half years after my first class, when the opportunity came to take a yoga teacher training class in Maryland, my mind was already made up.  For several months, I had been feeling a strong need to spend more time around yoga.  I enjoy teaching yoga very much.
Jeris Quinn

When I decided to try yoga I went for 90 days straight. It became part of a complete lifestyle change. I was out of shape, pretty heavy for my height at 220 lbs, my ankles were swollen, I was smoking, and my heart rate would go up climbing a flight of stairs, so I knew I needed to do something to get in shape. I went almost everyday for two years, and I did some research on nutrition and changed my diet. I started juicing, eating organic, I got into the whole bio-hacker mentality and started applying it to yoga and nutrition. It was journey figuring out what was right and what actually works. I lost about 70 lbs. Everybody is their own experiment, and you know what works for you.

I’m really interested in yoga therapy. More people are on pain pills right now than tobacco, so that tells me we’ve got 100 million people in the United States living with pain. I was in a bad motorcycle accident when I was 20, and I broke my back and my neck and had sciatica problems. When I started Bikram yoga it actually got a little worse at first, but after a few weeks it got better and now I’m completely healed. I’ve got no back pain, no nerve pain, more mobility, more flexibility. I believe other people can feel better, move better, perform better. Now that I understand more about what’s happening in the body, I see that most people have the same patterns. We’re all sitting in chairs all day, we’re all eating the same way and we have the same problems. But I also see the same improvements. I try to find those patterns and help people straighten those out over time. It’s a slow process, but I see how people start to open up. Everybody needs some form of restorative yoga.

I’m definitely into the science and the biology and the physiology. Yoga nerd is the right word.

 

Amber Speights

About 15 years ago, I started taking what would probably be called a restorative yoga class from a woman who taught near my job at the time. After I left the job, I was looking for another place to take yoga, but was leery of Bikram because of the heat. I knew I needed some yoga, so I decided to try it and absolutely fell in love with it and I’ve been practicing ever since.

It really makes me happy, I also see changes in myself, my personality, my confidence. I expected increased flexibility and mobility, but I didn’t expect these other things: sleeping better, enhanced concentration, increased confidence — it’s really changing my life.

Initially, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to teach. I do have some stage fright, but I knew I wanted to learn a lot more about the yoga, and teaching seemed like the next logical step. In the end, I just love it so much that I really want to share it with people. When I see the whole room moving in unison and everyone is in sync and the energy is flowing it’s so much fun to see. It’s a really different way to look at the practice.

I love the positive energy that students share. It is amazing and I am so thankful. I love when my input and instructions change someone’s practice, because I’ve had that with other instructors in my own practice and it’s really meaningful. I’m just glad to be able to share what I know.   

 

Ashana Allen
For no reason in particular, I attended my first Bikram Yoga class in 2009. Immediately hooked by this yoga, the purpose of my practice becomes clearer each day.

Through life's personal and professional twists and turns, the only thing that has remained constant is my urge to step into the hot room. When I realized this, I decided to step out on faith and follow my heart. I became certified through Bikram's Yoga College of India in Spring 2014 with the unwavering support of my two bright and beautiful daughters and the rest of my amazing family and friends.

Yoga is about developing the whole person. In my practice I must really dig deep physically, mentally, and spiritually. I enjoy the stillness of the meditation, and the and calming effect that Bikram Yoga has on all aspects of my life. When I'm teaching, I love watching my students triumph over the conditions in the hot room.  Robert Frost expresses one of my favorite sentiments saying, "The only way round is through".

Cincere Cook

How can we introduce movement, how can we introduce yoga, how can we introduce meditation, mindfulness, all those things that yoga encompasses, to be better people? That is my goal. So I’ve merged them together: movement, mindfulness, healing. These things are encompassed in the Inferno Hot Pilates class. I encourage all people to come, even if you’re just in the room. Eventually you’ll be doing some of the movements and before you know it, you’ll be working your way through the whole class.

I first came to pilates because my studio offered it, so I started taking it and I just loved it. I practice jiu-jitsu, and core is a big part of strength and movement, so this was a compliment to that. I was taking the class so much, the instructor invited me to his teacher training, and that’s how I got started. I love getting the most out of people. Looking at them, encouraging them, and being with them in the moment is what I enjoy. People don’t realize what they can do. Oftentimes just a little push, a little encouragement, and they walk out of class and they say, “I love this class, this is what I really want,” and they keep coming back.

I’ve been doing yoga and jiu-jitsu about 13 years. I started taking yoga before my jiu-jitsu class basically to pass the time, but didn’t understand the yoga at first. It wasn’t until about six years ago that I understood the spiritual connection, the meditation, and the full benefits. So now if I can focus on healing and developing myself in the room, then I can do that outside of the room. Pilates is a compliment to yoga. Don’t skip one to do the other, do both. As your core gets stronger, your postures get stronger.

Jessica Felline       

I love teaching! I’ve been practicing since 2012, although I’ve always been interested in yoga. I knew there were a lot of health benefits, but when I started going every day and noticed how profoundly different my life became, I decided I wanted to teach. It is very meaningful for me to connect with my students. I’ve also been a counselor for years, so I’m genuinely interested in other people’s life experiences, and if I can assist them or guide them in any way to better their lives, that’s the most fulfilling thing I can possibly do.

I really got started with my yoga practice because I was in a bad car accident and I had tried every other means to heal. I got a Groupon for Bikram yoga and went everyday for over 170 days, but within the first month I noticed a drastic difference in my body. I was like a new person at the end of it. It was amazing to see how much influence the practice had on both my physical and mental well-being. This practice honestly gave me hope that I could and would become a whole person again.

It works because it’s a holistic approach to healing. Most of the time, we isolate our issues. Your back hurts, so work on your back. But this practice is about your whole body getting realigned. It's a moving meditation, so you’re healing not just physically, but mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. You’re alone in your brain for 90 minutes, it's personal and it's powerful.  I recognize that everyone comes to class for a different reason, but what I really love is that no matter how you felt walking into class, by the end, you just feel better. There’s very few things that will give you that.