We’re so happy that this month you have a chance to get to know Larry Kovner, HYF teacher. Calm and steady, compassionate and knowledgable, students are in such good hands when Larry’s on the podium! Read on to learn more about what makes him such a positive, effective teacher!
Tell us what you remember about your first ever Bikram yoga class.
I was a runner for many years, but had to stop due to thinning and bulging discs in my lumbar spine. I also found out I had sacroiliac joint instability, which eventually led to sciatica. In place of running, I began exploring the world of yoga (back in 2008(. I decided to check out a Bikram yoga studio that had recently opened. Coincidentally, this was also around the time that Terri Fry was visiting the area, and she was teaching at this studio! I remember the yoga room was a lot hotter and more humid than I thought it would be and my heart was racing the entire time. I was familiar with some of the postures in the series, and others were completely new to me. I liked it immediately, and knew I’d be back for more.
The benefits of hot yoga and the teaching quality were the reasons I came back. The heat made my muscles more elastic and less susceptible to injury, allowing for deeper stretching. I also liked the detoxification that took place, cleaning my circulatory system. I talked to the teachers after class about my lumbar spine issues, and they all educated me on how Bikram yoga was a healing yoga and how it could strengthen my lower back and keep me in good physical condition. The way I felt after class was similar to how I felt when I ran three miles. The cardiovascular workout in a Bikram yoga class was exactly what I needed.
What were you like as a beginning student?
There were several postures I struggled with at the beginning, such as Standing Bow Pulling Pose and Fixed Firm Pose. All the teachers told me that it was okay to struggle on my mat and to embrace it. I was told to just try the yoga with the body I had that day. That philosophy made sense to me. I was also encouraged to deepen my practice by participating in a 30-day challenge. That philosophy made sense to me. I was also encouraged to deepen my practice by participating in a 30-day challenge. The camaraderie and support from other students was a key factor in contributing to completing the 30-day challenge. After I completed it, I practiced regularly four to five times a week.
How did you know you were “hooked?”
I got hooked within the first few months. I work full-time in the computer hardware industry, and my job can be stressful at times. I found the 90-minute class a solution for letting go of this stress. In time, I developed equanimity, which means mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper in stressful situations.
Also, after a year of consistent practicing, Fixed Firm pose was no longer as much of a struggle. After two years of practicing, Standing Bow Pulling Pose was no longer as much of a struggle. I felt an immense satisfaction working through these struggles. I felt like a better focused and more balanced person. My personal progression in the yoga and learning how to quiet my mind in this 90-minute, open-eye meditation made me want to keep practicing and learning all that I could.
When did you go to Teacher Training? What made you want to be a teacher?
I went to Teacher Training in Spring of 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. I was working as a contractor at the time, and the job I had ended several weeks before the start of Teacher Training. I figured the timing was right, as I might never have this opportunity again, so I went full speed ahead! I knew I’d be coming back to great mentorship, which alleviated some of the worry about, “Can I succeed at this?” I wanted to be a teacher so I could share my love of this yoga with others. I wanted to help others heal as I myself have healed with this practice.
What do you love about teaching?
I love helping students reach their potential and witnessing breakthroughs in their postures. I see the determination, focus, concentration, patience, and self control, and it continually inspires me. I love it when students learn a new skill and the excitement and enthusiasm it creates for them. I’m honored to share the knowledge that has been passed down to me from great teachers.
What do you still love about the yoga?
That I can walk into the yoga room after a day at work where I have been mostly sitting in meetings and in front of a computer and get the workout that I need. I love practicing with a diverse community of students of all ages, all body types, all different levels in their practice, which proves this yoga is accessible to everybody. Occasionally, I still encounter lower back spasms, but the pain and duration are much less than what I endured before practicing Bikram yoga. The experiences I have had with the healing of my back issues has given me empathy for other students who are also working through injuries.
Even after all these years, what do you still struggle with in class?
I still have to remind myself to regulate my breathing and to stay in the moment of awareness and not let my mind wander.
What do you know now that you couldn’t have known without so many years of dedicated practice?
That consistency leads to improvement. Like anything you want to improve on, you have to commit to a regular practice. Doing this has changed my mind and body. Also, the importance of breathing in class. To allow your lungs to expand and really feel it. This is why I remind and encourage students to breathe in class.
Do you have a favorite posture?
I like to have a strong mind/body connection with all 26 postures; I know each one prepares you for the next. However, because of my lumbar issues, the spine strengthening series postures are my favorite, particularly Cobra Pose – – it is medicine for the spine.
Do you ever take Hot Pilates classes? How do they impact your practice?
I have yet to take a Hot Pilates class due to scheduling issues, but I’ll get to one at some point. Many students tell me how much they like it.
Is there anything else you’d like us to know?
I’d like to thank all the students at our studio for sharing their practice with me. You all inspire me and make me proud to be part of this outstanding community.
Thanks, Larry! See you in the hot room!
— Ellen Olson-Brown, The Hot Yoga Factory Chelmsford