Gwen Walker has been one of our studio ambassadors for over 12 years!  You will always get great inspiration from her determined practice and her welcoming energy, and we are beyond thrilled to share a little more about her with you today.

How often do you practice?

I want to practice 7 days a week, but I currently practice 6/7 days per week and then take a day for rest and recuperation.  I have participated in (8) 60-day challenges and several 30-day challenges throughout my time at the studio, and I have just completed the “Oldies vs. Babies” challenge that took place this summer.  During challenges I focus more clearly on my body and mind, I feel stronger and more flexible, lose weight and tend to feel calmer in life situations.

What does Bikram Yoga do to help you outside of your practice?

I have quite the medical history.  (1970’s) Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis, (1980’s) had to learn to walk again (due to compromised mobility), struggle with loss of eyesight and a diabetes diagnosis, (2011) lumbar fusion, and (2013) cervical fusion and a laminectomy.

I am grateful to be able to practice Bikram Yoga!  Over the past 12 years I have improved my strength, flexibility, mind and spirituality.  Friends and family believe Bikram Yoga has reduced my daily use of a wheelchair (or other disability tools).  Bikram Yoga has also stabilized my diabetes – each year my test results are positive and stable over a longer period of time.  Also, my service companion, Leif III (CCFI) is a major LOVE and contributor to my well-being.

What postures do you love (or struggle with)?

Two of my favorite postures include Camel and Bow pose!  Camel pose improves flexibility to my neck and helps relieve some back pain, and bow pose works and strength and flexibility in my spine while increasing circulation and improving digestion.  It took close to 2 years to reach the full expression in each of these postures, and those were very proud moments in the room!

Standing head to knee used to be my least favorite posture, but Diane Ducharme came in and allowed me to execute the posture in a chair.  Now I can grab each foot, extend the leg, lock the knee (and flex my foot!), and bend my elbows and pull my toes back.  This has allowed me to gain strength and flexibility in my tight hamstrings and leg muscles, as well as help the muscles in my back, triceps and biceps.  I greatly appreciate Diane’s instruction – she is a yoga giant!

Tell us about your experience in the yoga room.

My most memorable experience has been to use my mind and body each day to the max, realizing that each day could be different.  As I age my most difficult is to maintain an adequate energy level to complete each class.  I must continue to appreciate all that I can do.

My Bikram Yoga practice has contributed as a means to reduce some of the stressors in my life.  I try to focus on my breathing in stressful situations and focus on more pleasant thoughts.  I tend to have more energy on a daily basis to complete other activities.  Bikram Yoga has helped to expand my confidence and continues to encourage me to attempt more activities!