Recently, Surf Mei Mei had the pleasure of interviewing Tricia Donegan, a certified instructor and passionate believer in Bikram Yoga. Bikram yoga was founded by Bikram Choudhury, who created the famous yoga sequences and unique yoga postures. According to the Bikram Yoga official website, Mr. Bikram created a 26 postures of yoga movements “to cure chronic physical ailment and heal the body,” after suffering a severe injury from a weight-lifting accident. Bikram yoga is practiced in a 90-degree room accompanied with strict verbal instruction by a certified Bikram Yoga instructor. It is widely favored by star athletes, such as David Beckham (soccer player) and Laird Hamilton (big wave surfer) due to its purported healing power.
Tricia owns the Bikram Yoga Lower East Side studio in Manhattan and has since attracted a huge following of dedicated Bikram Yoga enthusiasts, ranging from beginners to the most advanced. I first learned of Tricia via her studio’s great reputation from my yoga friends in New York. After seeing Tricia’s ability to inspire while teaching along with her unique leadership style, it was no surprise for me to learn that Lady Gaga frequently attends her 90-minute sessions and is great friends of Tricia: In her own way, Tricia is just as dynamic and exciting.
In essence, Bikram yoga is designed for everybody. Much of the discipline consists of balance and stretching, which is perfect for surfers. In her words, Tricia thinks of Bikram yoga as a demystified yoga, making yoga accessible for everyone. “It means we do things that everyone can do; we do roots of yoga so you can empower yourself through being born in the roots”, she says. But she also points out that this does not mean it is going to be easy.
Tricia previously owned 3 restaurants, so it was interesting to hear how she got into Bikram yoga in the first place. “I talked to my hairdresser and I always believed everything my hair dresser says (laughs). I was trying to find time to de-stress and exercise. I used to be an athlete and I played soccer in college. But I didn’t have the time to de-stress. My hairdresser dragged me to my first Bikram yoga class, and it was the hardest thing I ever did. It takes over your body and mind, so you really have to focus and concentrate.”
Tricia’s talents and entrepreneurial passions go beyond Bikram yoga. Her infectious personality, paired with her eccentric rhythm, obviously can’t be contained to just yoga alone: She is also the proud founder of The Lower East Side Girls Club (http://www.girlsclub.org/), which provides a place where girls and young women can grow, learn, have fun, and develop confidence in themselves and their ability to make a difference in the world. “It is now a 20-million dollar, 33,000 square foot facility that we own… we have built what people thought was unimaginable… All the tools and opportunities that were once inaccessible to them are now there just for them”, she says.
Tricia’s spirit and passion embodies Surf Mei Mei’s goal and mission: SMM wants to help all girls to have better surfing and adventurous experiences by providing surfing as well as lifestyle-related information. We encourage all passionate, Surf Mei Mei’ers to be like Tricia: to not only achieve their own dreams, but to help others to achieve theirs!
The next time you’re in Manhattan, be sure to make time to visit the Bikram Yoga Lower East Side studio and The Lower East Side Girls Club on Avenue D. Bikram Yoga sessions are 90 minutes. Bring your basic toiletries, bring your open mind, and Tricia has everything else.