How I found yoga – and it found me

I stared up at the motionless fan blades, attempting to relax in what is called savasana, or dead body pose, trying my hardest to mentally will the blades to turn on their own.

I couldn’t focus on my breathe (which is what you’re supposed to do to keep your mind in the present, instead of drifting away) let alone breathe at all! I was starting to get angry about the heat, thinking the teacher was purposely trying to make us all suffer. I mean, why the intense heat; weren’t we working hard enough already??


I finally couldn’t take it anymore and lifted my head up to meet the teacher’s gaze – I pointed my finger towards the fan and asked, “Please, can you turn on the fan? It’s so hot in here!”

That was the last time I asked that. I quickly learned that not only should you not walk into a yoga studio and ask them to change the environment to suit your personal needs, but that Bikram Hot Yoga is the original form of hot yoga that calls for strict heat and humidity settings – the following is from the official Bikram Yoga website:

The recommended temperature is minimum 105F degrees and about 40% humidity.

The room is kept at this temperature or more for the following:

• Keeping the body from overheating (contrary to popular misconception)
• Protecting the muscles to allow for deeper stretching
• Detoxing the body (open pores to let toxins out)
• Thinning the blood to clear the circulatory system
• Increasing heart rate for better cardiovascular workout
• Improving strength by putting muscle tissue in optimal state for reorganization
• Reorganize the lipids (fat) in the muscular structure

Ok, if you say so. Doesn’t mean I have to like it!

I would battle with this love/hate relationship with the heat for over a year of practicing Bikram.

I never thought I would get used to it. It was such a bother to me that I centered all of my focus on the temperature, unable to get past it and let the true yoga begin. Sarah, a huge inspiration throughout my yoga journey and director of Ganesha Hot Yoga St. Pete, would tell me over and over, mind over matter, don’t think about the heat; the heat is not going to change, but your body will change.

And she was right, because here I am today, finally having come to terms with the heat – maybe even as far as loving the heat (she said that would happen), and experiencing what yoga truly has to offer.

(I should stress here that not everyone has this much trouble with the heat; some acclimate to it very quickly. I just allowed my mind to psyche out my body for so long)

So what exactly has this yoga offered me so far, now that I’ve gotten the heat obsession out of the way? I’ve been experiencing a sort of peace and clarity I haven’t known in probably my entire life; I’ve lost weight and replaced it with confidence; I’m learning to love myself inside and out; I’m connecting with, and understanding my true inner self; my mind is getting stronger every day; I am more equipped to handle difficult situations off the mat; and so much more that I have yet to realize.


This is not just a trendy phase I’m going through either – instead, I have continued giving this yoga a chance for over a year now, with a few intermittent month-long breaks in between, I’ll admit. My recent feat of successfully completing a 30 in 30 yoga challenge in 28 days has bolstered me even further ahead in my practice; you could say I am reaping the benefits of my hard work and I truly believe in this “stuff”, as some may call it. And I realize there’s so much more to learn, as I still consider myself a newbie in the world of yoga.

You have to understand my history before being able to understand what a godsend yoga has been for me and how if I have been able to get to the point I’m at now in my life, anyone can. In short, I’ve gone through a lot – an emotionally abusive childhood, no parental support or contact since I moved out of the house at 20, alcoholism, severe suicidal depression mixed with bi-polar, social anxiety, weight gain, a role at a corporate job for 3 years during which time I worked in a very unhealthy, negative environment full of office politics, little exercise and a poor diet, and all while trying to support my very troubled younger sister the past 3 years as she has turned to drugs to cope with our childhood trauma.

I’m not saying all this to gain sympathy or play the woe-is-me card – no, I understand we all deal with our own demons and suffer from one thing or another that threatens to derail us from life. Rather, I am trying to relate to others going through hardships with the feeling that there’s no way out. I know how it feels to be in such a dark place wondering helplessly how you will ever make it out the other end alive. The only way I got out was my decision to make a change and make happiness a priority in my life – no one was forcing me to do it. Hence, I found yoga – or it found me – and with it came a world of exciting new possibilities.


Because of yoga, I have been able to integrate healthy lifestyle choices into my routine that have all contributed to my wellness today.

I realized I couldn’t drink and be able to make it in a hot yoga room the next day without passing out. I realized I wanted to feed my body healthier food so it could function better in class. I started to regulate my sleep without even realizing it – I had grown accustomed to staying up all night due to my restaurant job in my early twenties. I started drinking water like it was going out of style in order to stay hydrated with all of the sweating my body was doing. My dark moods started to dissipate until I got to the point where I was struck with the thought, ‘How did I ever feel as bad as I did?? I can’t even imagine how that must have felt now that I am happier’. I am a better partner to my fiancé, who has stood by me through all of my highs and lows, loves me for who I am no matter what, and inspires me to be the best that I can be.

Today, I am focusing more on my mental health and integrating a daily meditation into my life – and easily too, whereas in the past, it seemed insurmountable to meditate even once a week! I know yoga has been helping this healthier me come to fruition because the minute I take any sort of a long hiatus, I start to slip into old bad habits, imagine grey clouds in our clear, sunny Florida sky, and feel my most prized possession – my happiness – slip away.

I am most afraid of going back there, to that place where I don’t want to get out of bed, where my real smile is nowhere to be found, where all I see is a fat blob in the mirror in place of a strong, confident body, and where life is literally a living hell. I know I won’t though, because I have slipped enough times to where now, I know what my body, mind and soul need to function to the best of their abilities. And my body is in such a happy place with my yoga that I never want to part ways with it again.

I now make it a point to smile at myself in the mirror, breathe, meditate, be gratuitous, and treat myself with compassion on and off the mat every day.

In turn, I have been able to extend compassion towards others and get my thoughts out of the pessimistic black hole inside my mind. I have come to realize this life is amazing but fleeting, and I don’t want to miss a second of it. My old self would never have believed these words coming out of my mouth today, so this is a testament to everyone out there who may be scared to venture into a new world like yoga. I say give it a chance, because you’ll never know what it will do for your life until you try it. And don’t just try it for a month, but live it for longer – then decide if it’s not for you. That’s my two cents and I thank you for listening.


– Amanda Oneal



Jacque’s Journey – Part 3… Mind Control

February 1, 2015

“Over the holidays, I had my first week that I didn’t make 3 classes. It felt HORRIBLE!! I missed the sense of accomplishment and the physical feeling of euphoria dearly. The week after, I was back with a smile on my face and excited to be sweating and stretching again. No matter how hard it would be to get back in that saddle, when it comes to yoga practice, I am happy to do it.

Now on to my next challenge: anticipation and control.

Bikram Yoga PosturesI’ve been practicing Bikram yoga for many months now and by many teachers’ consideration, I’ve graduated from beginning student to intermediate student. As most of you know, the Bikram class is a consistent series of 26 postures. And, it’s the same 26 postures every Bikram class. I’ve reached the point that I know all 26. I can basically remember what’s next, how much longer it will be, how many more poses are left, etc. As an intermediate student and no longer a beginner, this knowledge has begun to affect me in the form of anticipation. For example, I began to notice that I would start the posture before the teacher even gave the instruction. Basically, I discovered that I’m thinking too much! Or, one could say, trying to “control” my yoga class experience. The control freak in me even started sneaking a peek at the temperature reading on the thermometers to see how hot it “really” was in the room… The thought that I couldn’t control something, anything… that I couldn’t control my experience had begun to drive me nuts…. The temperature, humidity, the time ticking by, the teacher, the amount of sweat on my face… you name it.

Thankfully, I have the ability to see this challenge for what it really is – an opportunity of a life time to truly see something pivotal, something life changing… that I can really only “control” one thing – MY REACTION. Oh yeah, and my breathing. Control the breathing!

Bikram Yoga for Weight LossIt’s a good day when you’re aware you are a control freak and a better one when you do something about it.

Do nothing, anticipate nothing, control nothing, and just breathe.”

Jacqueline Wiest

So you want to lose weight?

January 3, 2015

Bikram Yoga for Weight Loss

Bikram Yoga for Weight Loss

It’s that time of year again – New Years Resolutions. We are bombarded with “New Year, New You!” slogans and get thin quick schemes. The truth is, nothing worthwhile is easy. So the first step in losing weight is to get serious about it. Do you really want to lose weight? Uh oh… this is about to sound like work! You mean I can’t starve myself and cram into my skinny jeans tomorrow then feel great about it? Well you can certainly try, but we all know how that’s going to end up. We never said this would be easy – but we did say it would be worth it and that yes, you really and truly can do it. We can promise you this, if you want to lose weight and you do it with Bikram yoga you will not only have a healthy body, but you will have a healthy spine, healthy mind and a healthy life.

Most of us have tried every diet under the sun, all of us at Bikram Yoga St. Pete included. We’ve done the master cleanse, macrobiotic diets, Atkins, Bood Type diet, skipping meals diet – you name it, we’ve tried it. What we discovered is that diets don’t work. If you want to change your body, you have to change your mind. In the words of Wayne Dyer, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” So, at Bikram Yoga St. Pete, we teach you how to focus your mind. Not only do we teach you focus, but we also give you the best workout you’ve had in your life! Just this morning a client used her new calorie-counting gadget and discovered she had burned just under 700 calories in class. No kidding! So if you learn how to focus and calm your mind all the while getting the best work out of your life and at the same time stretch your body to lengths it’s never been plus compress and contract your internal organs giving you an internal body work out – your body begins to work at it’s maximum optimization from the very first class! Just think of how this will affect not only the way you look in skinny jeans, but your overall well-being. You’ll feel calmer, stronger, healthier and look better doing it too. There is simply no other exercise like it on the planet. There is a reason George Clooney does Bikram Yoga every day at 7am. And Lady Gaga, and Daniel Craig, and Sandra Bullock… the list just goes on.

Bikram Yoga for Weight Loss

Bikram Yoga for Weight Loss

Before you jump on the diet band wagon, kill yourself at the gym and beat yourself up again this year, come try class with us. We will get you in the best shape of your life – in just one 90 minute class.

Click here for our Class Schedule and remember to visit our New Students page before your first class!

Jacque’s Journey – Part 2… the HEAT!

As of November 5, 2014
Inches lost to date : chest – zero (thank heavens!), waist – 5″ (yes INCHES)

Jax-Separate Leg Stretching Pose

Jax-Separate Leg Stretching Pose

“There is an aspect of Bikram that grows and strengthens you from within. As the class heats up, the mind starts to go… ‘I think I’m going to die!’ or ‘My skin could catch on fire any second!’ Wait… and wait… and well, it hasn’t happened!

Jax - Balancing Stick

Jax – Balancing Stick

Yes, it is hot, but the more you can block those thoughts from your thinking, the better it gets. And please note, I didn’t say easier. The teachers tell you to focus on your breath. That seems easy enough until you attempt it. Inhale through your nose, exhale through your nose. Almost the entire class you should be breathing through your nose only. This alone is completely foreign to some people. It requires concentration and focus which allows your brain to stop thinking “I’m HOT”! You are listening to the instructions of the teacher and trying to follow them. Now, did I mention you should focus on your breath? The more you focus on this amazingly simple, automatic and thoughtless task (breathing), the better this unimaginable exercise becomes.

What brought me to Bikram Yoga was weight loss. Now, after several months of practice, I’m finding the mental growth to be essential. What I’ve learned is that in those times where I have a really hard class, if I concentrate on my breath, I get through it. Every class we work on the ability to still our minds and focus on our breath. This action is so incredibly hard for me. It’s a mental struggle that seems impossible, at first, BUT when you beat the heat, so to speak, you feel STRONG & ACCOMPLISHED! I say to myself, ‘if I can do this, I can do anything!'”

Jacque also measured her weight loss progress – the day after Thanksgiving she measured a loss of 6.5″ on her waist. Yes, you read that right – AFTER Thanksgiving! WAY TO GO JACQUE!

Jacqueline Wiest

Why Bikram Yoga gives you FASTER results!

Article Courtesy of Bikram Yoga Richmond, VA:

“The Original Hot Yoga: Scientifically designed to produce results faster!

When some people think of yoga, they picture dark rooms, incense, mystic chanting and meditation. While that’s true of some forms of yoga, Bikram hot yoga is different.

Bikram hot yoga is based on a fundamental scientific principle: that heat accelerates chemical reactions. And since your body runs on biochemical reactions, speeding them up produces results faster. Research from Colorado State University’s Neuromuscular Function Laboratory shows that the first 55 minutes of exercise in this environment raises your body temperature one full degree. So in the last 30 minutes of each class, your body’s chemical processes burn fats faster, break down built-up acids faster, and kill bacteria that can cause sickness and disease faster.

But that’s only part of the story. You also achieve results faster because Bikram hot yoga works more than just parts of your body. Unlike other exercise programs, its systematic sequence of postures and breathing exercises works every muscle, every joint, every tendon of your body – and your glands and nervous system as well.

It’s why Bikram hot yoga classes are 90, not just 60, minutes long.

Bikram hot yoga also floods your body with superoxygenated blood – and nothing speeds up your body’s natural processes more than the combination of heat and oxygen.

A 300-pound weight injured Bikram Choudhury’s knee so badly that doctors pronounced it incurable. But by applying scientific principles and then testing them on himself, he achieved complete recovery.”

Now the Original Hot Yoga that started the hot yoga craze is finally in Tampa Bay to help you achieve whatever fitness results you want, from rehabilitation to meditation to yoga for weight loss… faster. – Bikram Yoga St. Pete

BYSP Students

BYSP Students

Student of the Month: Congrats Jax!

Jax Wiest is our featured student of the month! She has lost over 11 lbs and 3% Body Fat. She has been eating real food and… since the the day we opened our doors, she has been doing Bikram Yoga 3 times a week. 

Jacque Triangle

“I am a Realtor with Keller Williams, but previously I worked in the residential construction industry for over 10 years. Over the years, repetitive use of my right hand messed up my neck, shoulders and back, leaving me with chronic, daily pain. Since then, I have constantly searched for something to help with pain and provide therapy. I’ve tried numerous chiropractors, each had different techniques from manual manipulation and neck traction to the Impulse IQ Adjusting Instrument gun, but nothing worked. I tried physical therapy which helped but only for a period of time. I even tried an inversion table every other day or so to help with disk compression on my neck. It’s for sale if anyone is interested. LOL.

So, one month ago I started slowly checking out Bikram Yoga St. Pete. It was the hardest exercise I’ve ever done in my life! When I finished the class I felt a huge sense of accomplishment, I realized that I DID IT!!! I can’t remember the last time I’ve been this proud of myself. After a few classes, something truly happens. And, make no mistake it happens really, really fast! My 2nd class, we were told by Sarah in the middle of Standing Bow-Pulling pose, ‘one day you’ll be able to see your toes, over your head, in the mirror.’ Ok, I believed her, but also thought that’ll be in a year or two. At this point, I couldn’t even balance on one foot! Then by exactly class #6…. yep, Holy Smokes, there are my toes over my head in the mirror! The responsiveness of my body to this exercise has been completely amazing!

Jacque Bow

Yoga for Weight Loss : Another part of my history, I stopped smoking cigarettes Feb 14, 2011 and the weight piled on. I was glad I wasn’t smoking at the time so didn’t care as much about the weight initially. Over time that wore me down and I gained over 30 lbs.

Fast forward to the fall of 2014. I started Bikram Yoga with Sarah who was gentle but firm. Then every instructor after her, yep, did the same thing! To everyone who is afraid of the heat listen up: each time the heat gets easier to deal with and each pose you get better and better than the time before. The instructors tell you to try three classes before you judge the heat – they are spot on.

On the days I can’t make it to yoga, all I think of is… I can’t wait to go to class tomorrow! Try class at Bikram Yoga St. Pete for yourself, I am sure you will be as hooked as I am after just a few classes.”

Congrats Jax! We’re so extremely proud and completely inspired.  Do you want to be featured in our next blog? Please comment below, FB us, Tweet us or stop by the front desk on your way out.  Peace, love and a kick-ass standing bow!