1. Tell us a little about yourself

German by birth, Italian by heart, American by choice. That pretty much sums up where I come from and where I prefer to live my life. I reside in Bradenton for over 15 years and could not imagine living anywhere else. We all are lucky to live in the right place at the right time. I am a commercial appraiser and construction analyst and consult condominium associations and HOA on their insurance needs and how to structure their reserve requirements. I love what I do, it is not a job, but a calling. I have two children; my son Max is a future medical student and my daughter Anne-Sophie plans on joining the family firm. I could not be more proud to have such great kids. Besides work I spend time in my art studio and on my Harley Davidson Softail.

2. Have you done other styles of Yoga other than Bikram Yoga?

Doing P90X for years, I practiced P90X yoga at least once a week. For a long time I avoided the yoga sessions because I thought it is not important and replaced the yoga sessions with Plyometrics or other “hardcore” workout. Finally one day I gave it a try and was very surprised to be completely exhausted after the P90X yoga. This is hard work (like Thavma Red or Black), and I was hooked. When my knee started to give me problems I had to look for easier exercise and started to practice Bikram.

3. What made you decide to take your first Bikram class?

First of all complementing my workout in general. But when I saw friends losing weight practicing “hot yoga”, I wanted to give it a try. At that point in time I did not know anything about Bikram, for me it was just hot yoga. This certainly was the fault of the studio I practiced in to really not get the point around, how beneficial Bikram is. There is hot yoga and then there is Bikram. This is an important distinction.

4. Why did you choose Thavma Bikram Yoga Studio?

I stopped going to “hot yoga” because of the long distance drive into Sarasota and also because the studio did not have showers. When Thavma opened I was intrigued to pick up hot yoga and found a beautiful studio with beautiful people and minds inside. From the first visit I felt comfortable in a professional and clean environment. I have appraised several buildings containing yoga studios and have never seen a studio, which is nicer than Thavma.

5. What was your first Bikram yoga experience like?

I am a German-Type-A-Capricorn personality and want to do everything 110% and better. Marina was the first yoga teacher stopping me right there and then, correcting me, holding me back and with that helping me. Leave your ego at the door and “practice” yoga. It is not a high achiever sport, but a moving meditation and most of us forget that from time to time. From the first visit I learned to hold back, listen to my body and just do what I can do.

6.  What makes you come back?

I have so many injuries and physical limitations that it is a miracle I can move in the yoga room at all. Coming back on a regular basis will help me keep my body going. Over the time friendships formed and I am looking forward to practice with others, feel the energy in the room. It is also my de-stresser; let’s not forget it is a moving meditation.

7.  How long have you been practicing?

I started with P90X yoga about six years ago and now practice for nearly two years at Thavma.

8.  What changes have you seen since you began the practice?

Maintenance of flexibility, less neck pain, better posture, great skin complexion, and most important, I finally drink more water.

9. Where have you seen that it helps you?

I had a knee replacement in December 2014. My doctors were very surprised to see my rapid recovery and flexibility in the knee. I was back in the yoga room five weeks after surgery. Without practicing Bikram my recovery would have taken much longer. I am also convinced that the bendability of the knee is that good because of yoga.

10.  What is your favorite pose?

Believe it or not: Camel, and here is why:

Camel is for me a foremost emotional posture. My goal will never be to totally bend back to reach my feet. My lower back injury forbids that. Therefore I can really concentrate on opening the heart chakra. Camel has become an emotional checkpoint for me. Each time I practice, Camel tells me where I am when it comes to my emotional status. Do I feel neutral? Are there hidden emotions coming to the surface? Sometimes it can be a surprise and I think I am totally stable, but then emotions appear and find their way out. I encourage you to do the same and when there are some tears appearing, no worries, everyone will think it is just sweat on your face.

11. What is your least favorite pose?

Fixed firm pose is the least favorite position, simply because I cannot do it at all. An artificial knee is not designed to bend as completely as a natural knee. Therefore I have to sit that one out every time.

12.  What do you like most about Thavma Bikram Yoga?

The good vibes in the studio; there is always a laughing face at the sign-in. But most importantly I appreciate the professionalism of the teachers. Last year I had the opportunity to practice at other Bikram studios and experienced the difference. I was surprised to see that other teachers encouraged beginners to go fully into advanced positions. When I saw the practitioners wobbling desperately on one bent leg and trying to stretch the other in the standing head to knee pose, I just thought, oh my, Marina should see this. We are all very lucky to have such great teachers at Thavma, teachers who really care and motivate all of us to practice right and to always remind us that it is practice and not a competition.

And here comes a little piece of advice for all who suffer from lower back pain and all those who want to avoid future lower back pain:

Elongate your spine before you bend your body in any direction, activate your stomach and butt muscles to protect your lumbar spine and you will actually feel progress and improvement.