Laura grew up in Melbourne, Australia and took her first Bikram Yoga Class in 2000 when she
was in her first year of study at the National Theatre Drama School, looking for something to supplement
the rigorous acting traing she was undergoing. She was not a fan and her first class was her
last. Six years passed before she made it back into the hot room. This time, it was a different experience
and a love affair with this yoga began. She practiced for a year before heading off to Hawaii in Fall 2007
to become certified to teach. Since her certification she has taught in Melbourne, London and here in NYC,
her new home since 2008. She loves not only the physical practice of the yoga, but is intrigued by the
mental practice and the way that Bikram can work on a mental level. The way that it can
connect mind & body. The way that it can strengthen and train the mind, both on and off the mat.
This is something that she really loves to explore both as a student and as a teacher.
Upkar grew up in Baltimore, Maryland and played lacrosse and field hockey in high school and
Division 1 sports in college. At the end of college she stopped all physical activities and gained
20 pounds. This was a depressing development for her. Sometime later her best friend dared her
to take her first Bikram Yoga class in New York City in 2003. It was love at first sweat!
She practiced on and off until the end of 2006.
By early 2007 she chose to undergo a transformation in her life.
She returned to the hot room this time ready to commit to a serious practice.
She practiced consistently 5 to 7 times a week, and then completed her first 30 day challenge.
That was what convinced her to go to teacher training.
She completed training in the Fall of 2008 in Acapulco, Mexico.
Bikram Yoga has touched and inspired Upkar and taught her much about her Indian heritage.
Celeste Cruz began practicing Bikram Yoga only 6 months prior to attending Bikram's Yoga Teacher
in Acapulco, Mexico. She became a certified Bikram teacher in fall 2008. Through her continued
practice she gained the opportunity to grow as a person, a student, a teacher and as a friend. The benefits
to her body and mind unfold in beautiful, sometimes painful but always strong ways. Bikram’s Yoga continues
to be her home and her yoga mat is her dance floor in which she celebrates. Teaching and sharing what she
has learned is one of the greatest joys of her life and she views every completed class as a triumph
for you and for her. Thank you Bikram.
Nancy El Naggar
Nancy started practicing Bikram’s Yoga in her 22nd year of a retail career that lasted another 3 long years.
Needless to say everything hurt from her fingers down to her toes after all those years of international travel,
long, long days in front of the computor, constant unending meetings and intense stress. Bikram’s Yoga brought
peace, freedom from pain, and a renewed sense of strength and well being. Nancy attended teacher training
in San Diego 2010, and she and her husband Ash partnered with Jim Kallett in opening the Bikram school in Queens
in 2010. Life is so good now…creating a home for the original, one and only hot yoga in Astoria and watching
what happens!!! Nancy graduated from Syracuse University with a BS in Physical Education.
You can find Nancy shopping (old retail habits die hard!), enjoying the amazing restaurants in Astoria,
and of course in class! Nancy lives in Queens with Ash and Lila and Ryan and Buddy.
Johanna Fausto grew up in Elmhurst, Queens and is thrilled to be teaching in the borough that she loves so much.
When she was a teenager, she dislocated her right kneecap which caused her knee to painfully pop
in and out at random times. Eventually, she had arthroscopic surgery to fix it but her knee was never the same.
Over the course of 18 years, she lost strength, flexibility and full range of motion in her right leg.
By her early 30s, she couldn’t even walk down a set of stairs without holding on to a handrail,
taking one step at a time. By the time she tried her first Bikram yoga class in March 2009, her body was a mess:
she felt chronic pain in her back, glutes, shoulders, ankles, and wrists.
Western medical doctors could not explain what was happening to her and they offered surgery
and prescription drugs as solutions. Her Type-A, overachieving personality drove her to constantly
seek perfection leading to an overworked and very stressed life.
She started seeing a holistic healer who recommended she find an exercise that made her sweat.
After doing research, she discovered Bikram Yoga and read about how the practice healed many ailments.
It gave her tremendous hope and she tried it because she was desperate to live free from pain.
In the first month, she practiced 5-6x a week and almost all of her pain disappeared. She was amazed!
Her right knee took much longer to heal but after 2 years of consistent practice, it finally did.
That long process taught her a lot about patience and compassion towards herself,
healing both her body and mind. Today, she lives pain-free and doesn't take herself so seriously.
She is so grateful to this yoga for that second chance.
She attended Fall 2011 teacher training in Los Angeles so that she could help others heal
because we all deserve to live a life full of vitality.
This yoga practice is the best gift we can give to ourselves.
And remember: lock your knee, lock your knee, lock your knee!
Stacy began practicing Bikram Yoga in San Francisco with Mary Jarvis in 2002. A friend brought Stacy in to class
with no warning, no water and therefore no expectations! And you know what? It was the best way to start!
Stacy slept better that night than she ever slept before and was a convert from the start.
The second coming of Bikram in Stacy’s life was in fall 2009 when she went to teacher training in Las Vegas.
It was the “wish factory” as everything she set her mind to she achieved! This included but was not limited to:
moving to NYC, acting in a Bollywood movie, curbing addictions and teaching at Bikram Yoga Astoria.
Find Stacy checking out comedy shows with fellow Astorian and Bikram Yogini Ashley Currie, eating at
healthy restaurants with other yoga pals or sleeping (which is so much better thanks to Bikram)!!!!!!
A die-hard passionate yogi since 2008, Yuri's enthusiasm and positive energy is considered by many to
be welcoming and inspiring. Growing up in Seoul, South Korea, Yuri studied and achieved a bachelors
degree in Ballet. With over 10 years performing and teaching ballet, she was ready for something new.
Fast forward a few years, a new country, a new culture, and finally a new friendship
which introduced her to Bikram Yoga.
Yuri quickly found a home in Bikram Yoga Astoria. It was hard to believe that something other than ballet
could be so challenging, require so much inner and outer strength, and yet leave her wanting more.
The more she put into class, the more she got out.
In 2012, she was ready. Yuri wanted to share what she gets out of Bikram Yoga with others.
She graduated in the Fall of 2012 from Bikram Yoga Instructor Training. But don't let her newbie
instructor status fool you, her ballet teaching experience has given her the ability to see if her
students are working to their potential, or not! Yuri is currently taking advanced classes as well,
preparing to compete professionally, all with her happy, smiling face :)
Rachel Kaplan is catapulting into the mainstream with her concepts on raising awareness about good health
for the body, mind and spirit through the practice of Bikram Yoga and a balanced diet. Rachel graduated from
Bikram's Intense Teacher Training in Honolulu, Hawaii in Fall 2007 and is currently teaching at Bikram Yoga Astoria.
While Rachel continues to stay passionate and teach Bikram's Yoga, she is also getting her BS in Nutrition with the
goal of becoming a Registered Dietitian in New York State.
As a full time Bikram Instructor in New York City, Rachel has developed a specialty in body alignment and
consistency that builds a very high standard for Bikram Yoga practitioners, resulting in the balance everyone
who is interested in good health desires. Rachel is available for private instruction and adds, “Seeing a subtle
misalignment in a particular posture is easier in a private session. I am able to devote my entire time to continuing
the evaluation of each movement and will advise the student on how to correct it. After practicing Bikram this
way for a while, the student develops a more beneficial habit toward achieving their goals.”
One thing remains for all who approach yoga practice with serious intent: this is a great way to develop
good health and increase longevity during your lifetime.
Desiree has been practicing Bikram Yoga since January 2010. Graduating from the University
at Buffalo in 2005 with a B.A. in dance, she moved to NYC to pursue a professional career.
As a dancer, she was fascinated with the body and the therapeutic power of movement and
expression, but like many performers who face being judged by their physical being, Desiree
struggled to truly embrace and accept her own body. Always working on conquering this
insecurity, she would spend monotonous hours at the gym, she even experienced a few yoga
classes, but it wasn’t until she discovered Bikram yoga that she became a true dedicated “yogi”.
Something clicked. The challenge of calming her mind into a meditative state while exercising in
an intense heated environment proved to be life changing. Quite unexpectedly, the conversation
that she had been having about herself began to shift, and she started to regain her inner
confidence. Bikram yoga became a daily test of fortitude, reshaping her physically and more
importantly, reviving her mentally. Practicing this yoga on a consistent basis brought an essential
balance and peace to her somewhat hectic New York City gypsy lifestyle. Three years later, in
the spring of 2012, she made the decision to undergo formal Teacher Training. Desiree is very
proud to be a Bikram yoga teacher, and share this gift with anyone who is open to receive.
Come take some Bikram!
In 2007 Jacqueline Montenegro walked into her first Bikram Yoga class.
Up until this point her career as a make up artist had brought up an arthritic condition.
Dealing with great changes in her personal life intensified the stress contributing to weight gain,
lack of sleep and anxiety. Invited by a friend and never doing any research she took the class.
It was the most incredible experience, her mind, body & spirit had not felt so alive for long time.
Soon after she made it her mantra to slowly build her practice, as she began a dedication to
the Yoga taking the 6:00am class 5 to 6 days a week.
To complete the transformation she madethe decision to attend Bikram Yoga Teacher Training
in Los Angeles in Spring 2011. Now Jacqueline is pleased to bring her passion to her class and
also to teach the only Spanish language class in NYC.
Bikram dice "Nunca tan tarde Nunca tan malo nunca tan viejo o enfermo para comenzar de nuevo."
Mark discovered Bikram Yoga in the fall of 1999 in New York City.
A former professional Broadway dancer for 17 years, he appeared on Broadway and in the
National touring companies with such shows as Gypsy, Sophisticated Ladies, The Tap Dance Kid,
Carrie, A Chorus Line, Cats, Damn Yankees and Show Boat.
His extensive background in dance gave Mark the skill level to teach Tap, Jazz, Ballet and
Acro/Tumbling classes at the prestigious American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Manhattan.
With this demanding schedule Mark needed something to keep up his strength and flexibility,
a friend suggested trying a style of Yoga that would repair the body, mind and soul. Mark was immediately
hooked and realized the healing power of Bikram Yoga. After 12 years of being a regular practitioner he
became a Certified Bikram Yoga teacher in the spring of 2012. Mark enjoys the opportunity to pass along
his knowledge and love of Bikram Yoga and to motivate all his students as they move forward with their practice!
Jakob Schanzer was introduced to Bikram Yoga in July 2001 by a friend when he was attending
the University of Arizona in Tucson. He attended his first class extremely inflexible, about 100 pounds
overweight, and in terrible physical and mental shape. He found class to be extremely challenging,
and had a difficult time even staying in the room for the entire 90 minutes for a month.
The only thing that kept him coming back was the blissful feeling he had for the entire day after
attending a class. In Fall, 2005 he decided to attend Bikram's teacher training in Los Angeles.
Upon his graduation from teacher training, Bikram hired Jakob to run the original North American
Bikram Yoga school in North Beach, San Francisco. He taught 19 classes a week for the 3 years he
ran the school, and honed his teaching skills under guidance from some of the most esteemed Bikram
instructors in the world including Mary Jarvis, Amber Strasser, and Lynn Whitlow.
He moved to New York in 2008 after undergoing an extreme lifestyle change, and has continued to
teach part time in New York City. He currently serves as a judge for USA yoga regional and national
championships, and is a regular staff member at Bikram's teacher training in Los Angeles, helping
to mentor and guide new teachers in the community. His advice to new students is to take it easy
on yourself. This yoga can work miracles on your body, so don't give up before the miracle happens!
Alina graduated from SUNY Buffalo and began a career in finance. A friend recommended Bikram Yoga.
Alina, never having tried yoga, was curious and loved it! She began a consistant practice of 5 times per week
for 5 years and never looked back. She decided to make a life change and went to teacher training fall 2009
in Las Vegas. Bikram Yoga has brought Alina disipline, serenity and patience. Alina enjoys teaching and sharing
the joy and benefits the yoga brings. Alina lives in Astoria and has been a part of Bikram Yoga Astoria since
opening day. There was one student in Alina’s first class in the first week of opening; she takes pleasure in seeing
the growth of Bikram Yoga here, knowing that Astoria will soon be the healthiest place in NYC!!!!