“You have chosen a career path that means
you will never have to work another day in your life.
If you love your job, it’s not called work.”
Meet Binny Liu and Nicolas Smith,
owners and teachers at Bikram Original Hot Yoga Perth
I became a Bikram Yoga teacher in the Spring of 2011. There are certain events which happen in our lives that shape our future in major, life changing directions, and going to LA for 9 weeks with 428 other yogis was one of those moments. Not only was I practicing something incredible that saved my life; I was then able to share this healing therapy with others.
Prior to starting Bikram in 2010 I had never exercised in my life. At the age of 14 I was diagnosed with Compartment Syndrome, which turned my life upside down. What happens is the pressure in the muscles build to dangerous levels because the fascia does not stretch, so blood and oxygen flow to the muscles and nerves get cut off - which leads to constant acute pain. I had operations on both arms, but this didn’t resolve the problem. I also developed fibromyalgia, which is simply chronic pain. I also had chronic fatigue because my muscles were so tight that they would never relax, my digestive system became sluggish, and I was in constant pain every day. Over time I became withdrawn and depressed. I do think most people take their health for granted; you truly do not appreciate how much you have until you lose it. Then in 2010, I came across Bikram Yoga.
It was a total game changer, yoga in a room that's 40˚C for 90 mins. I hated my first class, I began to sweat: from my shins and palms, I couldn't breathe, I could barely get through the postures, and I swore I would never go back. Yet as I got home I felt a serenity and calmness, and, just so I could prove it was a fluke, I went back for a second class... I haven't looked back since.
When I attended the Spring Teacher Training 2011 in LA, I was fortunate enough to be part of the demonstration team for the graduation ceremony. It was one of the most amazing times of my life and it has been a life changing experience.
Even though I'm still in pain now, it is much more manageable now thanks to Bikram Yoga. I function normally and have mobility in my body - I can lead a normal life. There are still bad days, but they are nothing compared to how I used to feel. Mentally I'm in such a better place too, it's given me the confidence and belief that I can do anything. To me the yoga provides a moving meditation to bring mental clarity and strength, emotional release, physical awareness and it supports the whole system in healing.
After training I moved to Dallas to teach full time. During that time I have visited and taught in Miami, LA, Houston and Mexico. In 2013 I went back to the US and had the privilege of being on staff at the Spring 2013 training and watching a new generation of teachers graduate. In the fall of 2014 whilst visiting the training held in Thailand, I met my future husband Nick, who is also a teacher and was on staff, and life became even better. We are a family of yogis, my mother and mother in law who are both in their 60s practices, Nick’s brother is a teacher as well and now we have our own studio to share this yoga with others along with our first yoga baby Estell!
Being a teacher enables me to share with others the healing and balancing aspects of yoga. Being healthy is not a destination; it is a way of life. In my own life I am more fulfilled physically, mentally, and emotionally. I have found that the benefits of Bikram yoga are truly amazing, and I am grateful to be able to teach and share this with others. Whether I'm practicing or I'm teaching, I'm often reminded that "Nothing is impossible, the word itself says 'I'm possible'!"
My start with Bikram Yoga came when I attended my mother’s graduation for her own Teacher Training in the spring of 2013. Both my mom and my brother are certified Bikram Yoga teachers, having completed their trainings in Spring 2013 and Spring 2015 respectively. I took two classes from Bikram himself, and he inspired me to want to teach. I was a highly trained athlete in both track and soccer, with the former having me win various state and regional championships in southern Mexico, and the latter seeing me attend and play soccer at the University of San Francisco. I've had various injuries over the years, and the yoga has helped me cure them and help me become not only stronger, but more flexible as well.
In the fall of 2013 I decided to attended the Teacher Training in Los Angeles and went through the rigorous 9 week course of 2 classes a day, anatomy, and lectures on yoga. It was an experience like no other before. At the end of training I was selected for the demonstration team for the graduation ceremony and I felt honored and privileged for having been selected.
Having spent my younger years in intensive athletic training I took full advantage of a daily double class practice during training and the results showed. By the time I finished training I could perform every posture to a much greater degree than when I started training, and I owe that to a positive mental attitude about class. Class was never too hot, never too cold, postures were never too long or never too short, they were all as hot or as long as they needed to be and that mental aspect has helped me to this day keep a steady and strong practice.
Shortly after graduating I began training for competition, as during my training I had been asked numerous times by other people if I had considered it. I competed in the regional and national USA Yoga competitions of 2014, taking 1st in Northern California and 12th in the national competition. I could not have done it without the help of a strict practice schedule and the help and mentoring of experienced senior teachers including Emmy Cleaves. Emmy is Bikram's most senior teacher, dating back to the 70’s well before Bikram held teacher trainings. Her guidance and very strict teaching helped me learn a tremendous amount of the therapeutic benefits of the practice, as well as the importance of alignment within the practice.
I worked on staff for the Teacher Training in 2014, both in the spring in LA and in the fall in Thailand. I also met my beautiful future wife Binny when she came and visited in the fall training as well. I have taught at a few studios in California including Bikram Yoga World Headquarters, and have also taught in Thailand and Japan.
I am excited to share the mental and physical benefits from a disciplined practice within the studio, and look forward to having students from different walks of like enjoy the benefits of the 26+2.