Lucky me, I got to chat on the phone with Neil Doran about his yoga practice!
Before I even pitched my first question, Neil told me, “I’m always singing. If you see me in class, in my head, I’m singing. I used to do that when I was running. Five miles would go by in a heartbeat. So now I sing in class.”
I never would have guessed that Neil, determined, focused, and quiet during class, had Doors songs running through his mind to get him through the 90 minutes. But now I’ll never forget, and I might even hum along with him!
Neil made me laugh, he made me feel so grateful for the community we have here at The Hot Yoga Factory, and he reminded me what a gift this healing, therapeutic yoga practice is. Read on; you’ll be glad to get to know Neil better!
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m 63, married, with four children and seven grandchildren – and one more on the way. I’m a baseball fan.
Being an athlete, I try to stay active. I know how important it is to stay physical. My job is very physical, and doing this yoga really helps me get around and do my job daily.
When did you start practicing Bikram Yoga?
I think it was 2012. I had been driving up to Nashua, but when Louise and Norman moved to the Chelmsford studio, I started coming here.
What made you walk through the door to take your first class? What do you remember about it?
My physical condition was such that I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t believe getting older was like this, and it was driving me nuts. I couldn’t run anymore. I had tried mountain biking, and I went over the handlebars; I’m lucky I survived. I grew up skiing, but I was afraid of my knees.
My daughter said, “Dad, you’ve got to snap out of it, come with me.” She had been going to the Nashua studio with her husband. She wanted my wife to come to the Mother’s Day class, and wanted me to try it too. She told me that I could lay down if I needed to, and that Norman and Louise would tell me everything I needed to know.
I’m very competitive by nature, and I couldn’t stand there and watch it without participating. I was exhausted.
But I came back, and I kept coming. The mental aspect is the same as running. You’re in your bubble, in your own world instead of 20 miles down the road. The physical aspect isn’t just physical; it’s meditative.
How often do you practice?
The most I ever did was 15 or 16 days in a month. I try to get in two or three days a week.
What benefits and changes have you seen from your practice?
Physically, I feel like I’m young and in good shape and can function well.
What has surprised you about your practice?
When I look at other people who truly have the talent and ability to do what the postures are, I just feel great witnessing this excellent stuff. A lot of times I think, “I wish I could do what so-and-so is doing.”
Do you have a favorite posture? What do you like about it?
All of them. I like the stretching ones.
What is your most challenging posture? Why?
What used to be my strong suit is now my weaker suit with respect to my knees rehabbing and issues with my foot. Balancing is challenging. I know I can’t do the postures the same as other people in the room, but I’m right there with them. The effort is the same.
You recently had a double knee replacement. How has that affected your practice?
I couldn’t wait for the doctor to clear me to go back. I knew that prior to surgery, all this practice was helping with my knees. Even though my knees were in rough shape, I knew I was doing the right things. He cleared me to go back after just 10 weeks, which I think is amazing. I’m still easing back in. Some things are similar to prior to the surgery, and some things are different after the surgery. I just pay attention.
What’s one tip you’d give to a new student at The Hot Yoga Factory?
Just keep coming. If you leave class thinking, “What was that all about?” just remember tomorrow is another day, and come on back.
What other activities do you enjoy when you’re not working or practicing in the hot room?
I stay busy around the house. I enjoy spending time with my children, grandchildren, and wife.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
I’m glad that Norman and Louise and Terri built a successful studio that people come to because of the great things this yoga does for people. A big thank you.
Thanks, Neil! See you in the hot room!
–Ellen Olson-Brown, The Hot Yoga Factory Chelmsford