Strength, balance, flexibility and peace often come to mind when you think of what you could expect to find at Sterling Hot Yoga & Wellness. But two students found all of that—and each other.
Mel and Chanda Washington were dedicated yogis before they met at Sterling and married in 2017. Both had only ever practiced original hot yoga or the Bikram method before the studio brought them together.
For Mel, as a competitive tennis player and runner, he was looking for something that would help improve his flexibility and fitness. About 17 years ago, he found it.
“I no longer run road races,” he said, “but I still enjoy long bike rides and hot yoga.”
In 2011, Chanda’s childhood dreams of being a dancer were replaced with the gift of yoga.
“I was always drawn to it,” she said of yoga. “When I was a kid, I wanted to be a dancer. I didn’t make it, but yoga seemed close. I signed up as a birthday present to myself.”
Not long after then Bikram Hot Yoga Mobile opened in 2010, Mel moved to Mobile from New York City.
“I was looking for a hot yoga studio to continue my practice,” he said. “Lucille (the founder and original owner) welcomed me like family, and it has been like home ever since.”
Chanda was intrigued by the thought of hot yoga. “I am also an athlete and enjoy a good sweat,” she said.
From day one, she was hooked. The first class left her feeling like she could “fly,” she said. “I knew the moment after my first class that I would do this yoga for the rest of my life.”
Though Mel’s reaction to his first class was somewhat different, he was determined to keep coming back.
“My first class was in NYC. I remember how hot and crowded the room was. Within the first 15 minutes, I was on the floor gasping for air,” he said. “However, I stayed in the room and survived my first 90-minute class. I was determined to get better, so yoga became part of my weekly workout regimen.”
That approach has paid off. Mel said his regular practice improves his balance, flexibility and overall fitness, and the desire to improve keeps him coming back.
The most surprising thing he’s learned from his many years of practice is to take the practice one day at a time.
“Every experience or day is different. Accept what your body can do on that day,” he said. Hydrate before class.”
Chanda has experienced greater strength and flexibility through a regular practice, but she gets even more than physical benefits from yoga. “When I am practicing, I am able to calm my mind,” she said.
And it’s that feeling that keeps her coming back. “I need hot yoga in my life,” she said. “The feeling I get after practice is always amazing. It doesn’t matter what is going on in my head or in my body, I always feel better after class.
Like Mel, Chanda has learned patience with herself and her body. “Some days the poses are easy and some days not so easy. I have a very competitive nature.” she said. “I have learned to be easier on myself and remember that yoga is a practice and that every class I show up on my mat is is a good class.”
While the practice provides life-changing benefits, it’s still accessible for first-time students. Every class is a beginner’s class!
“It will change your life! Not only will it change your body, but it will change the way that you think both in and out of the hot room,” Chanda said. “You will be a better person!”
Mel’s advice for first-time students? “Remember to breathe and stay in the room.”
Mel and Chanda said they feel a deep sense of belonging at Sterling.
“SHYW is like family,” Mel said. “They care about your health and well-being.”
“Sterling Hot Yoga Mobile is my happy place! As a regular at Sterling, I feel like I am part of a family, a healthy family that looks out for each other, motivates each other and nurtures each other’s growth,” she said. “It will also always be a special place for me because it is where I met my husband.”
What can you find at Sterling Hot Yoga & Wellness? Only one way to find out! Sign up for our new member special. It’s $30 for 30 days of unlimited practice. Click here to get started!