Teachers see a-ma-zing things from our perch on the podium. We see effort and focus and progress and strength, in ways that are sometimes initially hard for students to perceive in themselves. I remember exactly where Stephen Barrett was set up when I first noticed his steady, solid Triangle Pose. When I asked him if that posture had always been easy for him, Stephen laughed and assured me that it’s still not easy for him to do Triangle Pose; he’s just gotten stronger and more flexible, mentally and physically.
You can see Stephen’s Triangle Pose here, as he demonstrates our posture of the month.
Read on to get to know Stephen better, and be sure to introduce yourself next time you see him in the studio!
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a 48 year old married man with three young boys. My life is, and will be for the foreseeable future, crazy! I think I have a good sense of humor and have a pretty good handle on life and life’s ups and downs.
Physically, I have been in relatively good shape for most of my life. About 15 years ago I hurt my back, and it became harder to work out without pain. I went on to achieve my black belt in karate. I would have stayed with karate, but unfortunately, a lot of the moves became more and more difficult with my chronic back pain. Not wanting to take medication to help my back, I decided to try a doctor and friend’s advice…yoga! And here I am today.
When did you start practicing this yoga?
August of 2015. I started with $30 for 30 days and have been coming ever since.
How did you discover it?
Friends and doctors told me I should try yoga, and I found this studio on the internet.
What inspired you to start doing yoga?
I was out of shape, overweight, and in pain due to injuries.
What do you remember about your first class?
“Run away! It’s hot in here!” But I came back for more.
What keeps you coming to class?
Relaxation. I have found that the days when I feel the worst are the best days to get to class. Most of my problems seem smaller and less urgent by the end of class.
How often do you practice?
1-3 times a week. I go to yoga and Hot Pilates classes.
What benefits and changes have you seen from your practice?
My body, mind and spirit have all been lifted up. I used to be in pain all day, every day. I wasn’t flexible. Now I can lie flat, I can almost touch my toes, and I am in less pain. I have found a place to relax and learn to be calm and patient. I can quiet my mind and focus my energy on my inner self.
How has this yoga affected your life outside the hot room?
I used to be hot-tempered and very quick to argue and find fault. Now going to class has allowed me to control and focus that side of myself into a more productive and positive individual.
What has surprised you about your practice?
How much my body has learned to move in many different directions.
How has this yoga improved your lfe?
Yoga has given me a calmer, better perspective on life. It is also helping me get myself back into shape.
What is your most challenging posture?
All of them. My body is not very flexible.
Do you have a favorite posture? What do you like about it?
Triangle Pose. I like it because I can do it!
What is one tip you would give to a new student at The Hot Yoga Factory Chelmsford?
Don’t make a quick decision about whether or not you like this class. Just keep coming, and in six months you will never want to leave.
What has your experience been like in the Hot Pilates class?
I found it to be a great muscle strengthener and core workout. No one likes to do push-ups and sit-ups alone. When you’re in a large group of people, it can be a lot of fun, and class seems to fly by.
How does taking that class affect your yoga practice?
I’m able to get into the postures deeper and hold them longer.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I used to have a false impression of the yoga studio and yoga. Now that I have attended class, I wish I had started sooner.
Thanks, Stephen! See you in the hot room!
–Ellen Olson-Brown, The Hot Yoga Factory Chelmsford