Maria Vasquez

How I discovered Bikram Yoga, Testimonial of Maria Vasquez

One day while watching the 6pm news, I saw a segment about Hot Yoga. I was eager to hear about this kind of yoga because I had arthritis and constant knee pain. I thought that this would be a good way to overcome my physical problems. I was waiting for the phone number and address to be said but somehow I missed the information. I then forgot about yoga, and one year later while doing the breast cancer walk, I met a young lady while we were walking and talking and she informed me that she was doing hot yoga. I was ecstatic and just knew that this was divine intervention. I told her that I was interested in that form of yoga and begged her to take me. She told me that she was taking classes on 8th avenue. She could not take me as she was going on vacation, but would contact me when she came back.
That same week I had an appointment with my doctor and while on my way to his office I passed a yoga studio on the UES and took a flyer outside that building. I put it in my purse, went to the doctor, and did not read it until I was on my way home. I was very happy to see that it was the type of yoga I wanted. Right then I called and asked about the beginner’s class and was told that there was no beginner’s class. Instead I was told to show up 20 minutes before class to fill out forms. On May 23, 2007 at 5pm I started to take my classes. My instructor was Ben. I was a little nervous and told him that I was 63 years old with health problems, plus I appeared to be the only black and old person in the room! Ben calmed all my fears. He was very helpful in telling me relaxation techniques and what I should do if I should feel faint, like sitting on the mat until you feel better. I finished the first week of classes and felt so good. It was amazing.
I decided to sign up for a month. In the second week that I was there people were celebrating their 30 day challenge completion. I had no idea what that was and asked the receptionist for information on it. She told me and I decided to sign up for my own challenge. I had been coming for a whole week straight and asked if I could do the 30 day challenge and was told yes. I was feeling so great that I did my 30 day challenge twice! I thought to myself that my people need this type of yoga to better their health! Oh! How I wished more of them knew of this wondrous thing.
One day after class, my instructor Erik stated that it would be his last day as he was opening up a studio in Harlem. I was thrilled and wanted to know all the information. Erik urged me to go online, which I did, and I obtained everything necessary to start class. I did a 30-day challenge at the new Harlem studio. However laziness kicked in and I reverted back to being inactive and not practicing my yoga. I did not practice yoga for a whole year. In December 2010 I had a total knee replacement. Then in April 2011, I had the other knee done. While recuperating, I felt the need to do my yoga, so on Sept 8, 2011 I started back. Already I feel the difference; I feel stronger, more energetic, and my knees are getting better. I am working towards doing all of my positions. Thanks to Erik’s compassion, dedication, motivation and helpful tips. I am on the road to being a greater more flexible person. I would like to personally thank Adam and Erik for bringing Bikram Yoga to Harlem. At the 145th street studio, we are a family. I would strongly encourage everyone to attend classes and take advantage of this wonderful way to restore your body to a healthy working order.

Fall Testimonials!

(Left to Right: Tracey Gardner, Ileana Infante, David Randle and Laura Dignon)


I have practiced Bikram yoga nearly every day since my first class in April 2010. I am lucky and blessed to have found a practice and a community that have changed my life so profoundly and for the better. I am also fortunate that my sister is my loyal practice partner and that my husband is so supportive of my practice. When I learned that we were pregnant, it didn’t occur to me that I should stop or even slow down my practice – even when some non-yogis questioned my decision to continue. I consulted two doctors, both of whom felt confident that I wouldn’t encounter any problems since I have such a regular practice. I listened to my body and have been sweating it out all along.

My pregnancy practice has been a humbling experience. I used to push myself continually to see just how much I could improve each day. Now, my body and my baby have taken over. It’s no longer about whether I can hold in my stomach, see myself in the mirror, get into the invisible chair, or step on my hands while the top of my head touches the floor and my back remains straight in Standing Separate Leg Stretching pose. My focus now is on breathing, stretching, and taking care of myself for 90 minutes each day so that I can provide the best possible environment for my growing baby.

I am convinced that this practice has allowed me to have an easy pregnancy so far. I haven’t had morning sickness, my back doesn’t ache, and I haven’t suffered constipation, which I’ve heard is common amongst pregnant women (thank you, Wind Removing pose!). My only regret is that I can’t say that my practice has kept me from packing on the pounds – but that’s due more to the eat-whatever-I-want pregnancy diet I have unfortunately adopted than to the limitations of Bikram yoga.

I am grateful for the support and encouragement the Bikram Yoga Harlem community gives me every day. The teachers patiently taught me the modified poses and always check on me during class to make sure I’m feeling okay. My fellow students are incredibly generous in sharing their own stories, advice, and good wishes – and for making room for me to place my mat near the door. You all continue to motivate and inspire me. Thank you.

The only thing about this journey that worries me is that I won’t be able to return to class for several weeks after I have my baby in February. I will miss you all while I am gone, but I will be back!


I started practicing Bikram yoga in 1999 at a studio that no longer exists, Yoga Connection, on Chambers Street. I still remember my thoughts throughout my first class that either everyone worked for Cirque de Soleil or they were natural Gumbies. Initially, I practiced once or twice every few months. I believe the thoughts of the heat and my anticipation of how I was going to feel during class prevented me from being in the room more often. But I always returned! Then somehow I became a “regular”, practicing two times a week (maybe three times on a good week). One day I said to a yoga instructor, “you know I am really not noticing any changes” and to my surprise the instructor responded “you need to have a consistent practice”. Consistent? OMG two to three times a week is not consistent!? So, I increased my practice to four times a week.

You may be asking what has changed in twelve years? I am focused during class, I make every effort to do every posture and I do not think about the heat before or during class (yes, this is possible). I would like my postures to be deeper and more expressive, but I also have to remember (and respect) that I nursed two injuries: a torn rotator cuff ligament (fully recovered) and, currently, a hip labral tear. So, some days my body says, “yes, let’s do this!” and other times it says, “no, I am not going there -do not push me”. No matter how my body feels on a given day at the end of the 90-minute class, when I am in savasana, I am always appreciative to have taken class.


I started coming to BYH in June at the encouragement of my partner. I hadn’t really given yoga (let alone hot yoga) much of a thought before then. My first week was pure hell. At Triangle Pose, when the teacher announced the halfway point, I found myself seriously questioning the benefits of a class that seemed like it would never end and that I surely wasn’t going to survive. But it didn’t take long for mind and body to adjust and I’ve been gleefully entering the sweatbox four to five times a week ever since. The classes fly by as I lose myself in the meditation. The community at BYH is so friendly and welcoming and all the instructors offer insights into the yoga that extend to the rest of life. I find myself much more peacefully dealing with work, family, and school. In a little over four months I’ve noticed significant changes in strength and flexibility and my middle-age spread has all but melted away. I’m even getting an extra 20 yards on my Saturday morning golf drives. Thanks BYH!


Bikram Yoga has been such a gift to my life. I feel stronger, more centered, and more alive at 51 than I did in my twenties. I was not looking to start yoga when I found BYH; I just happened to pass the studio on my way back from a doctor’s appointment and took the card outside that advertised their hours and introductory special. Little did I know that my life was about to change. At that time, I had a pinched nerve in my lower back that made it difficult to even walk. I have been practicing for almost three months now and can’t imagine life without it. My affected left leg is getting stronger every week, and my whole body feels a vibrant, childlike aliveness. If I miss a day, I feel like I’ve missed some crucial basic of taking care of myself. Just walking in the BKH studio makes me happy. It’s simply but beautifully designed, clean and friendly. And, while I enjoy all the classes, Adam’s are my favorite. He weaves wisdom and laughter into the dialogue, so that when the class ends, I feel like my body, mind and spirit have been cleansed and renewed. He regularly reminds us, “The more you practice, the more wonderful things happen to you.” That is certainly true in my case.

Lillie Madison

I would like to tell you about my first 30 days yoga challenge. It all started when my doctor recommended that I should look into yoga for my arthritis. It would help me with my flexibility in my left leg and overallwell-being. After talking about it with my family, my son Anthony as a Christmas gift gave me that push in the right direction with a 30 day pass into Bikram Yoga. It was right in the neighborhood, so I don’t have to travel far from home. When I first arrived at the center I could hardly climb up the flight of stairs; I had to take one step at a time because of my left leg. Now I can use both of my legs together since I have been going to my yoga classes daily. On my next visit to my doctor this past week he noticed that walking and mobility has been improving. When I told him that I joined a yoga gym in my neighborhood, he then said to me to keep continuing on taking yoga and I should improve even more in the future.

Casey Blonde

After years of ‘wear and tear’, way too many injuries, 2 ruptured discs, being left unable to walk more the a few feet without experiencing excruciating pain and essentially being bedridden for a month and a half, on February 16th, 2009 I had major back surgery. 6 months later I made my return to Bikram Yoga!!! After that first class back (and after wiping away the tear of joy), I knew was on the intense road to a full recovery.

Bikram Yoga is now without a doubt the essential factor in my physical, spiritual and emotional health. Taking classes at Bikram Yoga Harlem provides the motivation and accessability I need to continue in my recovery.

Now, one year later, I am proud to say that through the practice of Bikram Yoga and the Bikram Yoga Harlem instructors and facilities I am unquestionably stronger than I have ever been!! Physically and emotionally! Thank you so much!!! Namaste.

Nicaise Makosso-Kune

Well, how can I explain it. It started 6 months ago when I met a great friend of mine, Theresa, in Harlem at French Cafe. I was so excited to see her and she looks great, so the next question was “How are you doing and how are you keeping your body in great shape?” Her answer was, you know, I do Bikram Yoga. I was like “What?!?” She invited me the next day uptown to this Bikram studio, called Bikram Yoga Harlem. To her surprise, I showed up and then took the class. The first 30 minutes I thought I was going to die. I ran out of the room, went and threw up and almost fainted. I sat outside for 10 minutes, then Adam, one of the owners asked me how I was doing. I said ok, so he asked if I wanted to come back in the room. I said Why not? I finished the class, stiff and a little shaken up. I came back a couple of times and in the middle of August signed up for the yearly membership.

Since then I’ve been practicing 4 times a week, but after my return from France in January, I upgraded and pushed myself to a new height, meaning 2 classes a day, Monday thru Friday, with rest on Saturday and Sundays! I have now finished my 5th week straight and still have 8 weeks to go. I feel great and my practice is improving in several of the asanas. I do encourage yogi friends from the studio to join me on week 10, only for that week, and every yogi that joins me during that period I will raise some money for each who joins me and donate to a charity. This specific practice that I am doing is nothing else than a personal challenge; everyone can create or do one for themself! Only Love. Namaste.

Kerry Odom

As someone who has no athletic background (or ability) I was terrified to take a Bikram yoga class. I was afraid of the heat, the intensity and my ability to keep up. I started talking about going to the studio in December and did not take my first class there until May. When I walked in (with my husband, because I was too afraid to take class alone) Adam greeted us and we immediately felt welcomed. The teachers at the studio are amazing! They push you, challenge you and support you all at the same time! Though we started slowly, my husband and I now practice regularly at the studio. I can honestly say that when I don’t practice in a while I feel the difference. Not only has Bikram yoga helped me feel physically better (less migraines, more energized), but as someone who is very anxious and stresses everything, it really has taught me the ability to feel more in control and relaxed in difficult situations at work and in life.

When I got pregnant I thought I would have to stop practicing – everyone had an opinion on how practicing would affect the baby. I have, however, continued practicing. I was reassured by how knowledgeable the teachers are and also the support that I received. Teachers helped me during class and before and after class modify the poses and push myself in a way that was beneficial for me and safe for the baby. My doctor said my decision to continue practicing should be based on how I feel and I feel so much better when I practice than when I don’t. I have been to other studios and none are like Bikram Yoga Harlem. I know the fact that I am still practicing is due to the comfortable and supportive space that BYH provides. Its nice to have a place in the neighborhood where you can go and see friendly and familiar faces. Its like the “Cheers” of Harlem (except we don’t drink, we sweat.)

N.B. Sebastian says: If you are a regular practitioner of Bikram Yoga, and become pregnant, talk to your physician first, and then the teachers about modifying your practice. If you are pregnant and have not practiced Bikram Yoga before, this is not the time to start! Wait until after you have your baby, and then come visit us!

Mike Colwell

I am grateful that a good friend suggested Bikram Yoga Harlem when I started my yoga practice. The owners, Erik and Adam, have created a yoga community in their studio.

All the teachers are fantastic, and have helped improve my yoga practice through their guidance, support, encouragement and caring.

My whole body is changing from the inside out and is getting stronger and more flexible by the day. Yoga lifts my spirits after a day of the stresses of city life like no other form of exercise has ever done for me. Some of my favorite people go to the studio and I am inspired and motivated by their efforts and growth.

This is a way of taking care of myself and it heals and brings great joy into my life. For these reasons I have attended every single day since I joined on September 1, 2009. I’ll see you there at the studio.