Andrea was this blogger’s very first Bikram Yoga teacher; it was at the Kits Studio about five years ago, and I remember being terrified – she talked so loud and so fast, and the class was far from the laid-back experience I thought yoga would be. By the end of 90 minutes, however, my mind had changed and my love affair with Bikram Yoga had begun. Andrea played a big part in that. I recently wondered: what happened to my first Bikram Yoga teacher? Turns out she’s living in Toronto, still teaching, still practising … and so much more!

Tell us how your Bikram Yoga journey has unfolded …

Lisa taught my very first class in 2001; I’ll never forget it. I knew I wanted to be an instructor almost immediately and, in 2004, I got myself to Teacher Training. I taught at BYV regularly until 2008, when I left for New Zealand, Australia and other international adventures.
When I came back to Canada I wasn’t ready to stop exploring; I’d always wanted to move to Toronto and make it in the “big city” as an actor (I got my BFA in acting from UBC while I was working at BYV). Since my best bud David Mook and many other friends were already living in T.O., the timing couldn’t have been better.
Now Bikram Yoga Bloor is my home studio; I teach there three days a week and can be spotted sweating profusely in the front row most days.

What else are you up to in the T-Dot?

When I’m not telling Toronto Bikram Yogis to lock their knees and push and push and push, I can get pretty busy with various acting projects. I also love going for walks with my Australian Cattle Dog Gus, chilling out in some of the great indie cafés here, hanging on a sunny patio in Kensington Market (preferably with David Mook) and going to see live theatre and comedy.

Will you be visiting Van soon?

I’ll be back for sure in August, and I always love to teach a guest class (or a few!) while I’m in town. It inspires me as a teacher and a practitioner to see the progress the students I used to teach have made since I left. Also, I love getting feedback and mentorship from my first teachers and BYV colleagues so I can continue to grow as a teacher.

What do you miss most about practising and teaching Bikram Yoga in Vancouver?

Since I first began working at BYV’s front desk in 2002 I’ve made some very meaningful friendships and connections with my colleagues and students; I miss being able to go to any class and seeing those friends there (and practising with them!). I always look forward to taking classes from all the great teachers at BYV, especially Danny, Lisa, Tanya and Julia. They were MY first teachers and they know my strengths and weaknesses so well. They push me to be my best every time.

What’s the Bikram Yoga scene back east like?

My favourite thing about being a part of the Bikram Yoga Toronto community is being directly involved in how quickly it’s developing. I’ve lived here for almost three years and, in that short time, five new studios have opened in the GTA and surrounding area! I love seeing new students fall in love with Bikram Yoga, as well as helping regular practitioners take their practice to new levels.

Are there any major differences between east and west when it comes to Bikram Yoga?

There were two things I noticed immediately in the hot rooms in Toronto: one was the high humidity (it really heats up here in the summer) and the other was how much harder class was with a raging hangover (did I mention that Toronto has AMAZING nightlife?). Unlike most Mondays in Vancouver, students here seem to be a little slower in class after a good weekend of partying!

What do you look forward to most when you come back to Van for a visit?

Having grown up in Vancouver I took for granted how gorgeous the mountains, oceans and forests are; whenever I come back, I see my hometown with fresh eyes and it blows me away. Visiting my family and friends, going for bike rides, seeing music shows in whatever dive bars are left on Hastings, big days at Wreck Beach, coffee at JJ Bean, ferry rides to the Sunshine Coast, eating extremely well and, of course, practising in some of the best studios in the world are all on the list, too. This question is making me homesick!
If you’re ever in Toronto be sure to look Andrea up; check Bikram Yoga Toronto’s class schedule and join her in the hot room!

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