Introducing Mike Willans, our Member Spotlight this month. He is a true inspiration and shows what changes can be made with commitment and dedication to a regular yoga practice.
Incredibly, it is coming up to five years since I first walked into Hot Bikram Yoga (Hot Yoga Society) in between Christmas and New Year in 2011. It felt incredibly brave at the time, what if I couldn’t stand the heat? What about all the incredible yogi’s? Am I way too tall and inflexible to cope? Will there be any boys there at all? This all sounds crazy now but my mind was full of fear. I thought it would be super quiet and I could hide at the back which was not really the case as it turned out.
The very first class was the amazing Michael Eley and it went ok in a non-bendy sort of way despite my 6’5 47 year old body. What a great introduction to practice it was. Over the next six months I inched forward from the back of the room as my confidence grew encouraged by Heidi and many others. Camel Pose was impossible for several months until one day Alexis stopped class and said ‘Mike, it’s time to sort this out’. Encouraged by her, I discovered getting into Camel was much worse than being in it. Never been a problem since. There are many similar stories but the tutors continue to inspire and encourage despite my terrible attempts at some postures. There are so many I could mention all with incredible things to add, Sindy with off the scale positivity and tutorials, Michael Eley and relentless personalised tweaks, Mel and wonderful gentle spirituality, Ky’s legendary classes (say no more), Naomi and her immense energy and humour. I could go on with Matt, Tammy, Sasha, Frances, Alexis, Nicola, Elsa and Cintra all worthy of mention.
Then there is the morning yoga crew, a frankly bonkers set of people who get out of bed insanely early and practice more days than not. The sense of community is so strong and it’s amazing to see everybody whether old or young, large or small, male or female, novice or experienced all together in a supportive environment. There is something so very special in the studio and everybody is happy to pause and chat before and after class.
Despite a year out for various knee ops and other injuries I have improved so much but still have so much more to do. It is unthinkable now to not practice and I fully expect it to be part of my life for all my days to come. I wish I had started 20 years earlier but as is often said – never too late, never too old etc.
I cannot end without mentioning Yoga Nidra which takes place twice a week with Naomi. I took my wife for the first time last week and my daughter for the second time and what an incredible thing it is. In all our busy lives a short time dedicated to this practice does amazing things, different for each of us, both transformative and calming at the same time. Perception of time disappears completely in class and all I can say is try it, you will be amazed.