Not many students can say they’ve been with Sterling Hot Yoga & Wellness since the doors opened. But Phil Purpura and Dot Small can.
Dot actually was one of the very first students to practice at then Bikram Hot Yoga Mobile before it was officially open!
“My first class was on then-owner Lucille Moran’s wedding day,” Dot said. “The studio was not finished, and we had no heat and air. It was August, so I had a pretty good idea of what it would be like with heat.”
Dot and Phil’s yoga journey began when Dot met studio founders Lucille and Bill during their search for a home in Mobile.
“We immediately became friends,” she said (which should come as no surprise if you know Dot and/or Lucille!), “and I felt I had to try the yoga even though it didn’t appeal to me at the time. Turns out it was just what I needed most, and I’ve been practicing here ever since.”
For years, Dot said her chiropractor had been encouraging her to try yoga to address the chronic neck pain she had “from hitting too many bad golf shots.”
But that wasn’t what prompted her to start her yoga practice. So what finally got her and Phil in the hot room?
Dot says, “Lucille,” and Phil says, “Dot!”
Like Dot, Phil had never practiced yoga, but once the studio was officially open, he’s been here faithfully too, and his regular practice has paid off and keeps him coming back.
“I noticed an improvement in flexibility and also it improved my golf game, strength and coordination. I sleep better too when I practice regularly,” Phil said. “All the benefits I’ve received are enhanced when I go consistently, stretch more and become better at the postures.”
That neck pain Dot was experiencing? It was better within a few weeks, according to Dot. After not going in for her regular appointments, she ran into her chiropractor, and when he asked where she had been, she said, “I told him I was doing yoga, and I was cured.”
But the other benefits Dot experienced were just as significant.
“The breathing was the biggest change. I thought I knew how to breathe, but I didn’t,” she said. “Another significant thing I noticed was that I could handle difficult situations better without becoming upset. The mental aspect for me was as great as the physical.”
Like many students, Dot and Phil found their first class to be challenging. Dot said, “If this is 90 minutes without the heat, I’m in trouble!” Phil said, “I was glad I made it through.”
But, as many students who keep coming back find out, Dot and Phil know practicing consistently is worth it, and the results can even be surprising.
“I am stronger than I thought and more coordinated than I imagined,” Dot said. “I love the heat!”
Though everyone in the room had different physical abilities, Dot was aware that everyone did the poses as best they could. She also noticed how much she had to focus during class.
“I had to focus on myself because if I looked around, I would lose my balance and I thought everyone else probably felt the same way,” she said. “I didn’t feel self conscious. “
Phil said he was surprised by how much flexibility and strength he could gain and how much he could grow in quieting his mind. “I thought I was pretty strong and in good shape,” he said, “but hot yoga showed me I have plenty of room to improve.”
Phil recently completed the 21-Day Healthy Habits Challenge at Sterling, which meant completing 21 classes in 21 days. Research shows it takes about three weeks to set a new habit.
“It exposed me to different classes, instructors and students, doing yoga at different times of the day, and I found there’s even more to all of the offerings at Sterling than I had previously experienced,” Phil said.
Several things have changed since Dot and Phil started practicing at Sterling. Of course, the name was different in 2010, but class offerings have changed as well.
“When I started and for the first few years, we only had 90-minute Bikram-style classes,” Dot said. “Then came Iron Hour, the 60-minute express hot yoga, vinyasa, Inferno Hot Pilates. I found that using the weights in Iron Hour and building my core in Inferno Hot Pilates made the regular hot yoga easier.”
Dot said she enjoys all the classes, but it’s the community she really loves.
“The Sterling instructors and the other students are like my family. They encourage me to come more, and it’s not just good for me; it is fun,” she said. “Even when I go to one of the classes that is not my norm, I know the instructors and everyone is friendly.”
The best thing a first-time student can do is just try, according to Phil. “It’s probably different than your preconceptions,” he said. “There are half a dozen different classes, each with different benefits for your body and your mind. You can’t get a feel for it until you try it.”
In short, said Dot, “It’s life-changing.”
Ready to try hot yoga and experience what it can do for you? Sign up here for our new member special, and get 30 days of unlimited practice for just $30!