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Andrew Hatalla

December 2016

Tell us a little bit about yourself - where you were born, where you grew up, career, hobbies, interests, etc. 

I was born and raised in the CNY, left a few times and may again, but the region will always be home. I grew up playing every sport I could get my feet into from track to rugby whether I was any good or not. I like running around and even as a young adult, I heard my knees popping, clicking, cracking and knew my time pounding the courts and pavement was limited. A year or so of repeated injuries attempting to perform tricks on the small pieces of wood the kids call skateboards left my wrists and ankles destabilized to the point that they still give out unexpectedly when holding frying pans or textbooks. I love to move. Until yoga, I needed movement to connect my mind and body. Now I can also reach that awareness through stillness and practice. I look forward to learning some of the things I have left for those rainy days like learning to dance and swim (more like the fish in the water than out). Without Bikram, Sandy, and the yogi family those dreams might not be possible for me today. 

What brought you to the Bikram yoga practice? Where did you first learn about Bikram yoga? 

A chronic, debilitating back injury had plagued me (and those around me) for over a year and a half before machismo bowed to my pain, disability, and I accepted an invitation to the studio offered by a pretty girl. Despite all the pain, self-consciousness very nearly held me back from that first class. I am forever grateful for all the experience, guidance, and acceptance I have received in and out of the hot room since then. I doubt I would even have suffered the injury in the first place if I had been doing Bikram all along, but mentally, I needed it to get through those doors and barriers that first time.    

How often do you practice? 

I practice as often as I can. Some trimesters that is once a week and some trimesters it can be as much as three or four times a week. Ideally, I would practice 4-5 times per week immediately after strength training. My practice offers many opportunities for life lessons. There is a gravity about the hot room that can override years of “no pain, no gain” mantras and allow an understanding that trying too hard is not as beneficial as breathing throughout the posture. Regular practice is more beneficial than crash courses. 

What specific physical issues, if any, did you have before taking your first class? What changes have you seen/felt in your body- overall physical and general well-being? 

I knew I had some issues before Bikram with trick knees, ankles, wrists, and a spastic back being the primary issues. The knees will always be the limiting factor in fixed firm pose, but I have experienced improvement in axes of movement I thought were lost to me forever. The physical relief I entered Bikram looking for has exceeded my expectations time and time again. Yoga has changed my life in ways I am sure I am unaware of. Some few I have noticed are a sense of serenity, acceptance, and security knowing that there is a place I can go to release, relax, and recharge. 

What are the greatest benefits of your practice?

The physical benefits were only the beginning. I have discovered muscles I didn’t even know I had deep within my back that were holding me hostage in their grip. The routine, environment, teachers, energy in the room, and solitude of one’s own practice has allowed the physical to become a vehicle for other lessons I wasn’t looking for or even aware that I needed. The greatest benefits of my practice have been internal. The studio has provided the structure and the 90 minutes the vehicle to link more benefits than I can really recount here and I never really know where that might be next. My job is to follow instruction to where ever I am that day, stay in the moment, and breathe. 

How has this practice changed your health and life? Any emotional or other benefits? 

Yoga has certainly changed my health and stabilized emotions throughout some of those tumultuous times life throws my way. Between family, relationships, and graduate school I dare say I would be lost without yoga. Bikram yoga in particular has curbed my pursuit of various vices because I know how it will affect my practice. Yoga has contributed to quitting cigarettes, drinking less alcohol, drinking less coffee, drinking more water, taking in more nutrients, and paying more attention to what and when I eat. I sleep better when I practice yoga on a regular basis. Stress and tension held in the body have the opportunity to be released in the hot room. When I first started coming to yoga four years ago, some of the teachers would give a sort of warning before class to let the new students know what to expect. There were several, but two that stood out to me were euphoria and crying. I don’t know that I will ever quite reach the height of rabbit pose, but despite those warnings, I was still surprised to experience (usually on separate occasions) both incredible joy and tears sliding down my cheeks. This yoga is more than a series of motions, it really taps into emotions as well. Odd as it might have seemed to the stooped man who limped and winced through the doors that first day, this practice has become one of my primary teachers in life. I wouldn’t be the same without it. 

What is your favorite part of Bikram Yoga Oswego?

My favorite part about Bikram Yoga Oswego is the care, attention, and dedication Sandy and Judy give to create a place for a yogi family. It's a special treat when one can attend a class empty enough that Sandy will walk out your feet or gently push you through a stretch. Through a bit of travel I was exposed to some other studios and found that many don’t bring out cool, scented washcloths for the yogis! We really are spoiled here and I love it. Without their perseverance to get through the training to become an instructor, build out, and even find a this new location, we wouldn’t be here. A special thanks to all those who have worked in the background to make this studio possible. I look forward to sweating with you all soon!

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