Student Story: Monica Serra
When did you start practicing at Bikram Yoga NYC, and why?
I was a swimmer for years, nothing special, just meditative laps in a pool at Manhattan Plaza Health Club and took the yoga class they offered. I met the now-beloved teacher, Georgia Balligian, there one Sunday at an afternoon yoga class. Before her, that class was a mishmash of various yoga postures. I have a permanent wrist injury from acrobatics as a teenager so when Georgia showed up with Bikram yoga I was so happy because there were no modifications I had to do with my wrist since there is no pressure anywhere with these 26 postures on the wrist. I felt it was God-sent and so was Georgia. There was no official Bikram yoga in NYC at that time. It was 1998. As soon as Bikram Yoga NYC opened, Georgia made me go, and I was reluctant because of the heat. I still hate the heat but it doesn’t matter. I feel good, clean and better afterwards.
What is it about Bikram Yoga that keeps you coming back?
I ask myself this question all the time. There is something to the depth of the practice since it is the same 26 postures all the time that I find so appealing. After I don’t know, almost 20 years of practice… I am just now learning the postures – believe it or not – and I love that that is true. I think this practice is a metaphor for life. You keep doing the same things over and over and hopefully fall in love with these things over and over and let them reveal themselves, like a true love affair. If you pay attention and allow the postures to speak to you, and not force the postures to obey your demands, you could have a very blossoming relationship throughout your life. If not, if you force your will your yoga and your life, it could get painful.
Has being a regular practitioner of yoga helped your work life?
I am an artist and a songwriter… and my practice has helped me to stay fit and focused. Painting is a very physical endeavor and both of these disciplines, art and music, are exactly that: disciplines. And so is yoga. In the hot room you have to be quiet, listen and respond. The same is true for art. You have to listen and show up and do the work.
Do you live by any inspirational quotes?
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new sights, but in looking with new eyes. – Proust.
Yoga has brought me to many places within myself and ideas pop up in my mind and I have learned to listen through yoga. For example I recently wanted to start a kindness, beauty and wellness movement because something inside me told me it was time. And so I listened and started Blossom NY with my co-founder Brittany Holmes, who also practices at Bikram Yoga NYC. Jonny Stewart, a fantastic and compassionate Bikram teacher, is also part of this enterprise. It is an initiative to wake people up to life around them through the simple act of planting flowers. Take a look at the website to learn more blossomny.org. Do your yoga, plant a flower and watch your life grow.