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If I had to pick one word to describe Corlese Todd, it would be powerhouse.

No, I changed my mind, I’d choose the word focused.

Then again, positive describes her so well too.

If I got to pick three words to describe Corlese? She is a focused, positive powerhouse!

You see it in her practice, as she moves with determination into a rock solid Standing Head to Knee pose.

You see it in her teaching, when she’s encouraging you into better alignment in Triangle or insisting that you go for those final few squats in Hot Pilates or Yoga Sculpt.

It’s also on display when she competes, performing a three-minute yoga routine in front of an audience and a panel of judges. This Thursday, Corlese heads off to compete in the Super Regional Yoga Asana Championship at the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, Ohio. Keep your eye on our Facebook page for info about watching the live stream of her routine!

Tell us what you remember about your first ever Bikram yoga class.

My first class was with Kelly Mara in Waltham around 2008. Although I don’t remember too much about the specifics of the class, I love that years later I got to teach Kelly myself! The Bikram community is such a small world that way.

I only practiced for maybe six months before I became pregnant with my first child and stopped going (had I only known!). I assumed I had to stop because I was pregnant. I wish I had asked. I started back with a more dedicated and regular practice in 2012. It felt again like my first class although several of the poses came back to me quickly.

Corlese is always ready to cheer you on!

What kept you coming back? 

I loved how I felt after class. No matter how I was feeling in class  – hot, overwhelmed, weak, hopeless, etc. – I always felt amazing, on-top-of-the-world, strong and accomplished after.

What were you like as a beginning student?

I definitely lacked confidence. I looked around the room and compared myself to everyone. I hid under layers of clothes and judged myself. I pushed myself though. I did every posture and stayed in the room, hoping that one day I would feel confident enough to stop judging myself.

When did you know you were “hooked?”

I knew I was hooked when the day came that I stopped judging myself and peeled off the layers of clothes.  A t-shirt became a sports bra, long capri pants became shorts, and I looked in the mirror not caring so much about how I looked but how I felt. I knew things were really serious when I signed up for my first competition. I was ready to show others my practice and share my love of the yoga with others.

When did you go to Teacher Training? What made you want to be a teacher?

I went to Teacher Training in spring of 2014. I knew I wanted to be a teacher around the same time I decided to compete. I fell in love with the yoga for so many reasons. It helped with chronic back pain, which I have no more! It helped me make healthier choices. It made me a better mother and wife. It gave me a sense of purpose. It gave me so many things. I felt I wanted to give back…by teaching. I wanted to share my love of the yoga and its healing powers with others.

What do you love about teaching?

I love seeing changes in my students. It is so rewarding when a student goes a little deeper in a posture or when they tell me after class that they feel better than they did when they came in. I love seeing the yoga do for my students what it did for me.

What do you still love about the yoga?

Everything! When I teach, I teach. But when I practice, I’m a student just like everyone else. I struggle some days, feel amazing on others. I’m always learning new things about my practice. No matter what, I always feel better after class, knowing I did something good for myself, mind and body.

Even after all these years, what do you still struggle with?

Beautiful alignment, Corlese!

Ego. I think I’ve gotten better, but especially now being a teacher, I want to be able to do every posture all the time, which simply can’t always happen. I am always telling my students that the body changes, that it’s important to do the postures 100% correctly, not to change the postures, and you will get 100% benefits. Some days in class I have to remind myself of that as well.

What do you know now that you couldn’t have known without so many years of dedicated practice?

That the body does change. I remember feeling that I simply would never be able to do certain postures or that I’d never be able to go very deep. I wish I had taken a photo of myself when I first started because so much has changed. You just have to stick with it and be patient.

Do you have a favorite posture?

That’s a tough question. Depends on the day. My favorite posture is usually the one I’m feeling amazing in and/or has gone through a recent change.

How did you get started teaching Hot Pilates and Yoga Sculpt?

I took my first Yoga Sculpt class from a visiting teacher and loved it. I had recently started doing more resistance training on my own at home, and the class was very similar to the style of workouts I had been doing, but better because it was in the hot room with music and a “personal coach.” I immediately thought, “This is what I need to do next!” Hot Pilates was very similar. Together my Yoga Sculpt and Hot Pilates trainings have given me another level of knowledge as a yoga teacher and fitness coach.

How has teaching other fitness classes affected your yoga practice/teaching?

I immediately noticed a difference in my yoga practice. I feel stronger and more flexible. The addition of Yoga Sculpt and Hot Pilates has been a tremendous complement to my yoga practice. The style of teaching is slightly different than a yoga class – I’m more of a coach, there to demonstrate correct alignment and then motivate, motivate, motivate.

What do you like to do when you’re not in the hot room?

I still enjoy doing my own fitness programs at home. I also enjoy being the mom of two great kids who keep me very busy!

Is there anything else you’d like us to know?

It’s so corny, but never give up on yourself. Be patient with yourself and great things will happen.

Thanks for being such a great example of your own good advice, Corlese, and good luck this weekend! 

–Ellen Olson-Brown, Bikram Yoga Chelmsford


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