Besides teaching, Marcus works as an X-ray technologist. He says he finds both professions “extremely satifisying because I know I am playing a part in improving health in both my students and my patients.” Find out more in his Teacher Profile!
Tell us about your first Bikram Yoga class …
My first class, four years ago, was somewhat random. I’d heard people talk about yoga but didn’t really know what it was. I did a Google search and, when Bikram Yoga Metrotown came up, I decided to go.
The first thing I noticed was how humid it was up, even up at the front desk. When I walked into the actual “hot room,” my first thought was to turn around and walk right back out. I died during that class. I tried to the leave the room three times but the teacher stopped me; I probably lay on my mat for 80% of the class.
What kept you coming back?
It was the most challenging thing I’d ever done … but I loved the challenge. I’d never pushed myself like that before, physically or mentally. I was always the shy, quiet guy that did his own thing and stuck to himself … plus, I wanted to see if I could get through an entire class without feeling like I was going to pass out!
At first I practised just once or twice a week. Even though I died over and over again in class, I always felt amazing after. As I started getting to know some of the students and instructors better, I came a little more frequently. Then I became really good friends with one teacher and we did doubles daily until I left for training.
When and why did you decide to become a teacher?
I went to Teacher Training in Acapulco, Mexico, in fall 2008 – about 10 months after I took my first class. I hadn’t really considered going, mostly because I was terrified of public speaking. But Brad Colwell, who owns the Metrotown studio, called me into his office one day and asked when I was going to training. He said I should consider it, as a personal challenge. Other teachers also encouraged me to go, not just as a way to improve my practice but, as Brad suggested, for personal development. I was already in love with the yoga at that point, but I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get through training. But after debating it with myself for a while, I decided to go.
I had a love-hate relationship with Teacher Training. I didn’t find it too physically challenging; it was more of a mental struggle. I struggled with delivering my dialogue in front of the group, with the lack of sleep and with doing the same daily routine for nine weeks. On the other hand, the resort was amazing, the sun was shining and the beaches were gorgeous; even better, I got to practice Bikram Yoga in a room with over 300 other people from around the world! As the final days approached I didn’t want it to be over. Looking back, Teacher Training was a defining experience in my life. It was the first time I had traveled alone, not really knowing anyone beforehand. I learned so much about myself and grew a lot as a person in those nine weeks.
What do you love most about teaching Bikram Yoga?
I love seeing the transformation in students, whether it’s mental, physical or both. It could be the minutest change or the most dramatic: weight loss, healing of an injury, a boost in confidence or seeing that foot rise one more inch over the top of their head … that’s what this yoga is all about. To know that I played a part in the change is extremely gratifying.
The most challenging thing for me as a teacher is to not be overly sensitive about my students’ energy. It could be a student not listening to directions or appearing not to work as hard as he or she could – I’m learning to understand that I don’t know the entire picture. He or she could be going through something in life at that particular moment that I’m not aware of.
What’s your teaching style/philosophy?
I teach how I was taught: a hot, fast, energetic class that will push you to your limits. I try my best to make the class challenging for everyone because that’s when you’re going to see the changes. Bikram says, “You come there to suffer. If you don’t suffer, you don’t get anything. Nothing easy in life.” I want students to realize their potential. I think too many people underestimate themselves. They tell themselves they can’t do it, it’s too hard, it’s too hot. They give up too easily. I know this from personal experience: I use to do it all the time. I want students to come into class knowing they can get through it, even if it means they have to lie down – it doesn’t matter. Come in and do your absolute best for that class. Remember: if you say you can, you will. If you say you can’t, you won’t.
What are some of your top tips for students?
Proper hydration is vital. The class is hot and you’re going to be sweating. Make sure you’ve had enough water and keep on top of your electrolytes. After that, it’s all about attitude. Come to each class with no expectations. Don’t come in thinking it will be your best or worst class. Just come in and practise in the present moment, with an open heart and mind. And remember to have fun; that will make your classes go by much quicker and you’ll learn to enjoy it more.
Are you still working on improving any aspects of your practice?
Of course, I don’t think anyone can really say they aren’t. It is a continuous practice. Most people find that their body is either stronger or more flexible. My body is more flexible than it is strong. I’m working on gaining more strength in my practice to make it more balanced.