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The Bikram Yoga Chelmsford community is filled with welcoming, dedicated yogis. We all share the same practice, but everyone’s path is a little different, and we have so much to learn from one another. Every month we choose a new BYC student to interview and honor with the title of BYC Hotshot. We hope you enjoy these “behind the scenes” glimpses into the yoga practices of your fellow students!!

This month’s BYC Hotshot is Michael Fitta. (Click here to see Michael demonstrating Cobra Pose, Bhujangasana, our December 2016 Posture of the Month!)m-fitta-hotshot

Some people just make everything feel a little better when they walk into a room, and Michael is one of those people. Warm, kind, and smart, with a great sense of humor, a positive attitude (even at 6:30 am),  and an admirable work ethic in the hot room, Michael is a well-loved member of the BYC community.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I have lived in Lowell for almost 20 years now with my husband, Scott. We share our home with two cats, Josette and Quentin, but I think it’s really their home most of the time! I’m turning 54 this year and sometimes I’m ok with that.

When did you start practicing Bikram yoga?

I purchased a Groupon for a 30 day introduction special at the studio in North Andover in the spring of 2011, and I started practicing in June of that year. After I completed 30 days, I began practicing at the Nashua studio. That’s where I first met Norman O’Neil. When Norman told me he was opening a new Bikram studio right down the street from me in Chelmsford, it felt like destiny. I’ve been coming here since we opened, and I call this studio my home.

What do you remember about your first Bikram yoga class? 
It was Terri Fry who taught my very first class at my first studio, and I thought she was hardcore and kind of scary! I remember that 90 minutes felt like 90 hours, and Terri kept referring to me throughout the class as “my friend in the back”. I decided about 70 minutes in to make a break for the restroom, and as I left the room in an overheated haze I heard Terri call out “My friend! We’re almost done, my friend!” and I thought to myself, “She is most definitely NOT my ‘friend’! She wants to kill me!” Today, she IS a dear friend… and she still kicks my butt on a regular basis! 
What keeps you coming to class? 
Yoga is one of those things that I can do, no matter what, that brings about ONLY benefits and positive effects, for me and everyone around me. I never regret coming to class. I practice 3x a week on average, and having an unlimited annual membership encourages me to come as often as I can and make the most of the best deal available.

What therapeutic benefits and changes have you seen as a result of your practice? 

The sciatica that I was experiencing before I started practicing is a thing of the past! I have way more energy and sleep more soundly than I ever have before. Also, I’ve seen a definite change for the better in my ability to handle stressful situations by breathing and being present.

Has anything surprised you about your practice?

I wasn’t especially looking for a way to quit smoking, but after 30 days of practicing, I found myself saying goodbye to a pack-a-day habit of many many years. I literally sweat it all out in the hot room. No other quit attempts were ever successful for me long-term! Oh, and by the way, Bikram also helped me to lose 40 lbs. at the same time. Incredible!

How has this yoga affected your life outside the hot room? 

There isn’t one area of my life that hasn’t been affected positively by my Bikram practice!

What is your most challenging posture? Why? 
Most of the standing series postures that call for balance are the ones I find most vexing. Even though I am usually struggling to remain upright most of the time, I like to remind myself: “Fall out six times, set up seven.” It doesn’t matter if I fall out while I’m trying my best. What does matter is that I always reset my intention and set up again, no matter how many times.

Do you have a favorite posture? What do you like about it?

I live for the floor series! Once we are on our mats, I feel supported by the floor and secure, and in those postures I usually feel like I’m really rocking it and can measure my progress steadily.

What is one tip you would give to a new student at Bikram Yoga Chelmsford?

What is happening on your mat is your yoga. What is happening on my mat is my yoga. It’s all yoga and it’s all good. We each have our own practices in there, and we’re all struggling in different ways. It isn’t easy for any of us, and that unites us as a community. Hang in there, you’ll see that it’s so worth it.
What other activities do you enjoy when you’re not practicing?

For other forms of exercise, I enjoy running, walking and indoor cycling. When I’m not working out, I love cooking (and eating!), and playing fetch with my cat Quentin. I’m not kidding.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

There aren’t enough words to thank the many wonderful teachers who have helped me and encouraged me in my practice. Their instructions and suggestions have often echoed into my day to day life and helped me to become a better and happier person. I’m so grateful for each of them, and for the entire BYC community. It’s a really special place, and I plan on staying around for a while! See you in the hot room.

–Ellen Olson-Brown, Bikram Yoga Chelmsford

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