Teacher: Experience Needed, from NYC

Bikram Press

It’s 10:30 a.m. on a Monday, the seventh week of a nine-week Bikram yoga teacher training course. I am lying face down on my smelly mat and I feel my will escaping. The temp is hot: 120 degrees. I can’t breathe. My head hurts. My legs hurt. I feel old and broken. Bikram Choudhury is yelling from his giant podium, one merciless correction after another. “Miss Black and Blue! You lazy! I hate lazy people.” I’m all the way in the back, Row 10, among 376 trainees. Surely he can’t be talking to me. Is he talking to me?

For 65 consecutive classes I had not given up. I can’t give up because six years ago I was a junkie living on the streets of New York, shooting heroin, drinking methadone and feeding my addiction to pills. So what are the odds of me winding up here, at 49, training to be a Bikram yoga teacher?

My journey is not easy to explain: from young aspiring actress to the depths of addiction, and then from junkie to yogi. I grew up in a small western Pennsylvania coal town with big dreams. I was the junior high homecoming queen and the lead actress in every high school play.

New York Times, “Teacher: Experience Needed” by Jeanne Heaton