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Audra Gehan

September 2011

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I'm 22 years old and was born, grew up and still live at home here in Oswego, NY.  I attended LeMoyne College where I graduated last May with a bachelors of science in Biology and minors in chemistry and psychology.  I am currently attending SUNY Upstate Medical University in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program.  I enjoy an active lifestyle.  I was involved with sports all through high school and have continued to run and workout throughout college and now.  Since beginning the Physical Therapy program at Upstate I have come to believe more in the benefits and reasoning behind each of the 26 postures of the class.  Bringing together the classes that I am taking at school and learning how to help people directly relate to different aspects of yoga, I am interested in learning more about how yoga and physical therapy could become integrated to better serve a patient in their road to recovery.

What brought you to the Bikram yoga practice?

My first Bikram class was in January 2011.  I had been at my aunt's house for a holiday party and she was talking about the hot yoga class she had been going to and how much she enjoyed it.  I love trying new workouts so I decided to tag along with her to see what all her raving was really about.  My first class was definitely different from any other type of workout I had ever done.  After about my 5th class I realized I needed Bikram in my life.  Overall, I felt better on the days I attended class compared to the ones I did not.  After every class, I felt like I had just finished an intense workout or a long run but along with that feeling of accomplishment, I felt calm and relaxed and ready to take on what the day had to offer. 

How often do you practice and what specific physical issues, if any, did you have before taking your first class?

First off, I am addicted to Bikram yoga so when I can come to a class everyday, I do.  With school started back up again, I try to make class as often as I can, which is usually 4 or 5 times a week.  I look forward to my yoga class- its my 90 minutes for myself, away from the stresses of everything else going on in life.What changes have you seen/felt in your body- overall physical and general well- being?

I did not have any specific physical issues prior to coming to yoga but I have noticed a great deal of change physically and emotionally with yoga.  I feel I am in better shape now than I ever have been.  I am more toned than I ever was just working out and using free weights at the gym.  My endurance and stamina have improved greatly as well.  Running now is much less strenuous and I have been able to run farther distances faster than I could before yoga.  Yoga has also greatly improved my posture and strengthened my back- I don't slouch as much and my back is no longer sore from carrying around a heavy backpack at school all day.  My stress level is significantly less with yoga.  It has taught me how to relax and to think more in the present, not worry about the past or to anticipate about the future.  The concentration and determination it takes to make it through a class has helped me to be able to focus and has built up my willpower.  I know if I can survive 90 minutes in "Bikram's torture chamber" then I can make it through just about anything.

What are the greatest benefits of your practice?

I think the greatest benefits from practicing Bikram are the order and balance it has helped me bring to my life.  Yes, the physical aspects and changes are great, but yoga has helped me to keep everything in my busy schedule in balance.  I don't become as overwhelmed and stressed over things that used to bother me, like a big exam at school.  I have learned to better self reflect and not to dwell on things that I have no control over.  I have found that the breathing exercise of class can be easily transferred over to any situation to help me take a minute to step away and then come back with a clear head. 

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

Yoga has given me a new appreciation for my body.  I am more conscious now of what I eat.  Since starting yoga I have transitioned into a more vegetarian diet and have cut back on sweets and synthetic foods.  I like the way I feel eating more organic and I don't feel I need that candy or cookie for a little pick me up anymore.  Yoga keeps me energized through the day and has helped me to snack less and take time to think about what I am going to eat.  I am also more aware of making sure I get enough sleep and since I started yoga I find myself waking up earlier and being less tired.  I am able to get more things done and be more productive and am less lazy.  Overall, yoga has helped me become a healthier person in all levels of my life.

What is your favorite part about Bikram yoga?

My favorite part about Bikram yoga is that there is always room for improvement.  I am a very competitive person and I like being able to compete against myself each class and to push myself to go further into postures.  Being able to get a "personal best" every class is what keeps me coming back day after day.  Bikram yoga never gets old because every class is a different, unique experience.  Some days I feel like I am going to have to lay down or leave the room during class and others I feel like I'm barely working. But no matter how the class goes, when I finish I feel accomplished and energized. 
As Bikram says,  "You have nothing to lose. You had nothing to begin with." The class is for everyone, so come try. We all agree, “It’s better to suffer for 90 minutes than 90 years!"

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