Since he was a toddler, Ryan Yakiwchuk has played sports of one kind of another. "I was always kicking a ball or running or something," he recalls. "I've been an athlete my whole life, and I even chose a career that involved sports."
But it wasn't until Ryan, a sports massage therapist, discovered Bikram Yoga that he really felt healthy. "Bikram Yoga changed my life completely," he says. "I lost 30 pounds, and it changed my body type, my balance, my fitness, my approach to being healthy. . . everything. And even more importantly, it changed me mentally and spiritually. For the first time in my life, I liked who I was."
Ryan admits that growing up, he couldn't even look in a mirror. "I struggled my whole life with worrying about what others were thinking about me, how I could please them, what they wanted me to do. Through Bikram Yoga, I've worked very hard to learn to accept and love myself."
Ryan is eager to share Bikram Yoga with others, and he frequently brings his clients (which include Olympic athletes and college football players) with him to the studio. "Even though they think they're in shape, Bikram is hard. They can't even balance on one foot!"
That's because much of sports is focused on training, Ryan notes, and training includes lifting weights and pushing the body and endurance. "Most athletes train hard and don't allow enough, or any, recovery time. The body gets so tight," Ryan observes. "Most of the injuries I see are associated with pulled muscles and painful joints. Bikram Yoga is recovery work. The hot temperatures, the sweating, the slow stretching, the focus on balance and stability and breathing add up to a workout that is much more gentle but still absolutely rewarding. And that doesn't even take into consideration the focus on the mental and spiritual work you do, which is really the most important of all."
Although Ryan recognized the benefits of Bikram Yoga when he first discovered it four years ago, it wasn't until he started practicing at Bikram Yoga at Brick Canvas that he discovered his "family."
"I connected with Bikram Yoga from the beginning, but the people here, especially Joanne, are so empathetic and compassionate. The studio is where I feel best, where I can tap into that zone in my mind and heart that makes everything in life so much easier. Even if I'm having a bad day, when I do a class, I feel better. Bikram Yoga has transformed everything about me."
Ryan hopes to become an instructor and keep sharing what Bikram offers to anyone who will listen. "Can you imagine how different my life would have been if I'd had Bikram when I was a kid?" he asks. "I want to make sure others get a chance to experience it, no matter where they are in life."