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A Yogini's Philosophy
By: Jessica Grajczyk
Date: 2006-04-08 01:57:36
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Interview with Jen Hanover, Bikram Yoga Instructor.

What made you decide to go to yoga school?

I decided to go to Bikram Yoga College of India in Los Angeles because I fell in love with the yoga, and wanted to take my practice to the next level. I’ve always been scared to get in front of people, so i guess it was also a way of conquering that fear. The physical challenge alone was so trying, I felt it was something that would expand my capacities and discipline. Mostly, I want to be able to teach this yoga to others, in hopes of bringing my students some of the benefits I have been fortunate enough to enjoy.Bikram

What do you love about Yoga?

I love everything about yoga. Yoga means union, literally. The mind/body connection has always been an interest of mine, and it’s amazing how integrated the two have to be for you to get through a bikram yoga class alive. The philosophy behind the practice is something that i think could help anyone in the world. Besides being able to do really funky stuff with my body, it has given me a mental discipline and a spiritual connectedness that I’ve been pursuing through other means for a long time. It is the hardest thing I’ve ever done physically, and there is really nothing like pushing your body beyond it’s limits and seeing how strong you can be. I am healthier and more in touch with myself than I have ever been in my life.

How do you feel about its recent trendiness? Do you think it has longevity and why?

I’m glad for its recent trendiness, because if it weren’t for that, I don’t know that I would have found it. The trend factor has worked in a positive way by bringing the yoga to a lot of people’s lives. What started out as a new way to lose a few pounds has literally transformed my life. I see lots of students there because it’s the cool thing to do right now, but I also have lots of students that are very serious practitioners. It’s so rewarding to see students grow from their first class to a few months in. Physically, mentally, emotionally, they get stronger. Better posture, more clarity of mind, more level moods, weight loss, muscle tone...the list goes on.

I do think it has longevity. The benefits are innumerable. Yoga itself is thousands of years old, and continues to develop in ways that increasingly serve the needs of many modern lifestyles. We take such pride in how busy we are, how many things we have on our to-do list. Yoga is an opportunity to connect with yourself and enhance the way you view yourself and the world around you. I think it will be a sustainable and growing activity for years to come.

What started out as a new way to lose a few pounds has literally transformed my life!

What’s the difference between Bikram’s and other types of yoga?

Bikram’s main claim to fame is the heat. The room is heated to 105 degrees, and you sweat like crazy. This helps get your blood moving to every part of your body, increasing the rate at which your blood carries nutrients to and removes waste from your cells. The heat also helps to loosen up your connective tissue (fascia), which allows for deeper stretching and enhanced release of toxins from your body. Every class is exactly the same series of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises performed in 90 minutes. It differs from other yogas in many way. It is a hatha yoga series, but the postures have been adjusted to increase strength, flexibility and balance. There is no talking in class. It’s very structured and straightforward, that’s why a lot of people love it. The efficiency is remarkable. You work so hard for 90 minutes, afterwards you glow for hours. We use headsets, the class is under bright lights, and there is no music or chanting or anything like that. It’s a very modern version of an ancient practice, and that’s why it’s received so much praise, and so much criticism at the same time. I love the controversy around the Bikram method. It’s funny, because practitioners of other types of yoga tend to scoff at the Bikram method, but in doing so they are defeating so many underlying principles of the yogic philosophy. I think any yoga is better than no yoga, and I just happen to ABSOLUTELY LOVE the intensity and level of difficulty.

How has it changed your life and why should people try it?

It has changed my life in many ways. My body has changed drastically. I can’t believe the flexibity and strength I have developed. It’s put me on a path that is very clean and focused. It’s also lead me to meditation and a fantastic connection with my body/mind. It’s also helped enhance my relationships with everyone in my life. My friends tell me I am much more peaceful and balanced. I find I am less reactive, more calm, and have higher confidence. But even on a purely physical level, people should try it if they want their asses whooped into shape at an alarming rate, and if they have old injuries that prevent them from enjoying health and vitality

What is your teaching style? Is there room for creativity?

My teaching style totally depends on the mood I’m in, and the energy of the class. A lot of the time I’ll be very commanding, passionate and energetic, interspersing the intensity with the occasional joke. Sometimes I’m mellow and instructional, calming and encouraging. It also depends on how many new students are in class. If it’s a class of all old students, I push a lot harder than if there are a few newbies in the room. Don’t want to scare them off too soon!

There is room for creativity, but in different ways. It’s the same class, true, but you can work a lot of information into a class if you feel like it, give extra tips, use funny little metaphors, and share stories in between postures. I sometimes demonstrate the postures, or have some of my students demonstrate a particularly strong asana. I like that it’s the same. It’s a great system, very scientific, and there is a reason for everything we do. You find ways to express yourself within the structure of the class.

Where can people find you if they’d like to take your class?

I teach at Bikram Yoga White Rock, 12-15 classes per week. I offer private classes for new and old students. We are online at, and I will have a profile on there soon.
I can be reached via email at
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