Beth: She meets,she greets, she inspires…

Now that is a gorgeous backbend!

Now that is a gorgeous backbend.

Hello yogis and welcome to Vancouver Bikram Yoga’s blog!

In case you haven’t met her yet, we’d like to introduce you to Beth Perkins.  She mans the desk on Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons.  You will know her immediately by her big beautiful eyes, her indelible smile, her ceaseless charm and her huge and seriously contagious laugh.  Oh yeah, and her backbends (see above).  Studio owner Erika wanted to spotlight Beth as a committed and incredibly fun yogi as well as someone who has come a long, arduous path to the place she is today.

Beth first came to the studio in July 2010, exactly one year after the death of her beloved 20 year old son Ryan.  His death had understandably paralyzed her on many levels.  She was trying to get herself back on track after a year of mourning; going to yoga with friends, engaging in a support group (with members whom even now she says she will count on forever) but she said there was something missing.  For Beth, it was Bikram Yoga.  She says this practice is “extreme,” but her grief and suffering at the time were extreme as well.  After a tough start, it turned out to be a perfect fit.  Her first class, Beth said she was worried she might not be able to crawl out of the room.  But she did.  Again and again, Beth came back.  Why?  To her, the answer lies in the grounding and focus it brought and the sense of accomplishment she felt like nothing else she had done before.

Her biggest challenge initially was breathing.  She found herself getting a little panicked and found it eased over time when she learned to “get on top of” her breath.  To her surprise and relief, the breathing carried over into her “real” life and learned that breath is the key to surviving in the hot room and outside of it.  She sees the hot room as a place to challenge what you think is real.  As she says it, in the room and in life, “the best thing is to let go of your expectations.  Or your ego will get you.”  Now, 2 and a half years after she began coming to the studio, her challenges are different but “opportunities are everywhere” to move your practice forward.  Her favorite poses are camel and rabbit.  They are difficult of course, but as she giggles, “sometimes I just tell myself I love how it feels when really it feels awful.  And you know what?  It works!”

The practice has contributed to Beth’s well-being in many ways.  Her doctor told her she was a “walking stroke,” but she has managed to lower her cholesterol by 120 points and her blood pressure as well since she started practicing.  Beth took the advice of her fellow yogi’s and eats a mostly plant based diet now, too.  Perhaps the most remarkable change she has made is moving from taking 3 different anti-depressants to now being anti-depressant free.  She credits yoga as being the force which got her through the withdrawal-like symptoms of dizziness and fatigue.  In her cheery and upbeat way, she also gives props to her fellow yogi’s as being the “beautiful community” which helped her through.  She sees them as keeping her accountable, being spiritually like-minded and contributing to her already bubbly outlook.  When you rub elbows with people like this, she says, you can’t help but be a better person.

And for now, you can catch Beth three days a week at the studio.   Sometimes four when she has time between her full time job in health care, playing with her two dogs and creating an outdoor space at the home she shares with her husband of 15 years.  Of course, the grief remains and becomes more acute when her son’s friends begin getting married and having children.  But Beth reminds herself, in her own genuine and sparkly way, that healing is a gift you give yourself. And along with time with friends and loved ones, yoga puts you on a path to accept and surrender.  Until then, Beth herself is a gift to anyone who meets her.  With her big beautiful laugh, her generous smiles and her dedicated practice to health, you can’t feel anything but be inspired.

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