I was born and raised in Mexico City, I’m a 35 years old, Mexican-American Yogi with a major in Business Management and an MBA. My family is very unique and funny family. My family members are my mom (a lovely, 58-year-old, strong, and spiritual woman named Gloria), my grandmother (a super-cute, 88-year-old yogini named Juana), my little brother (a 17-year-old, smart, young man named Ruben), and Luisa (my lovely wife from Colombia; how did we meet? It’s a long story!).
My first Bikram class was in late 2006 at the old Bikram Yoga Downtown Fullerton studio. I was struggling with my joints. I used to have pain in my right shoulder, knees (still working on it), and my lower back/sciatica nerve. In those days, I used to go to the gym every day as part of my daily routine (lifting weights, running for cardio, cycling, etc., etc., etc.). That gym was full of professional bodybuilders from all over the world (U.S., Japan, Europe, Latin America) and I became friends with couple of them as I used to train at the same hours they used to train. One of them told me about Bikram Yoga and how it could maybe heal my joints. He told me about the Bikram Yoga headquarters studio, but I was not about to drive to LA and decided to try to find a studio close to my house. After my first class I felt super relaxed, there was minimum pain in my right shoulder, my lower back was fine, and there was no pain in my knees. I remember thinking I had found the physical meditation I was looking for and it just so happened to include a deeply focused workout. After my intro special expired, I decided to go to LA and take class at headquarters with the founder of this healing system (as the bodybuilder recommended). I took Bikram’s class for first time. The room was full of yogis; all levels were there working step by step, like a mantra every asana, for 90 minutes, and at the end of his class, I found the physical meditation that I was looking for.
I was studying in a certified business program at UCI. At the end of the program, I went to Spain to complete my master’s degree. Luckily, there was a Bikram Yoga studio in Madrid where I could continue my practice. Not as often as I wished (I was in MBA school after all), but at least 2 times per week.
Wow I’m sure you pulled a number of all-nighters in business school. Good on you for still making it to your mat.
I had to. Practicing helped me stay so relaxed and focus – especially during finals and projects. Plus, I think dedication to practicing also helped me stay out of late night trouble!
In 2008, I completed my MBA, so I decided to head back to the US and continued to practice. (I still worked in the automotive industry) In January of 2010, I went back to Mexico City where I met my friend and future mentor Ulises Calatayut (he’s one of Bikram Yoga’s Senior Teachers) and he was the one who motivated me to attend Bikram Yoga Teacher Training in the fall of 2010.
I know. Why did I decide to go to the training after just getting my MBA? Because I truly believe that Bikram Yoga is an effective hatha yoga healing method that can take the practitioner into a deep meditation class by class, following the correct technique. We learn every day how to connect our mind with our body for 90 minutes, and I wanted to share this meditation experience with our students. So back to school I went!
My practice has continued to change since the very first day I took class. I wasn’t able to lock my elbows for several weeks in half-moon pose. In eagle, at the beginning, I couldn’t keep my palms together, not even interlace my fingers. It took me, like, 6 months to bring my right foot behind my left calf muscle, and almost 7 to bring my left foot behind my right calf. Standing bow took me almost 5 months to feel the sensation to kick hard enough and to be able to rotate my shoulder(s) in order to keep my two shoulders in one line in the mirror. The first time I grabbed my heels in Camel was after 4 months of practice. If I have to describe my practice I will say it’s a beautiful and challenging process of patience and self-realization.
The last savasana in every class never ceases to amaze me. That unique, re-energizing sensation in my body after every single class is . . . priceless.
I try not to play favorites. I love each one of the asanas that we practice. All of them are challenging, but I have to say that Pranayama, half-moon pose, and triangle are my favorites. (Don’t tell anyone.)
I am a dog lover. I like to read. I don’t have a favorite band, but I like The Doors, Killers, Kings of Leon, Elvis Presley, Bob Marley, and, of course, tons and tons of Latin American bands and singers. I love to dance salsa and cumbia, enjoy a good electronic music festival, and–oh, I almost forgot–I’m a Reiki healer and a student of Paramahansa Yogananda lectures. Oh, and I also struggle with standing-head-to-knee pose.
Shut the yoga room door!!! I didn’t know you practiced Reiki! Autobiography of a Yogi is a must read, for sure. And seriously, thank you for sharing your struggles in standing-head-to-knee.
As I said before, Bikram Yoga is the physical meditation that I was waiting for and it affected my life in so many positive ways. I meet different people from all over the world, have the opportunity to practice and teach in different countries, witness the transformation of our students week by week (priceless) but, most importantly, it’s part of my self-realization path.
Well…while in business school my friend invited me to Columbia during break. Luisa was one of his friends and what can I say? I think she had me with her smile. We’ve had to be very creative with having an international relationship for most of our time together. Let’s just say that I’m really happy we’ve made it and we can live in the same house, the same country together!