image of tonja

Tonja and her daughter.

Tonja is the queen of balance: she’s the mother of four, a student in a nurse refresher program, a regular 26&2 practitioner, and a BHYW teacher training alum. She came to hot yoga seven years ago to stretch tight muscles, at the advice of a personal trainer. The results were.. magic!

Find out how the 26&2 helps Tonja stay balanced and meet life’s challenges.

Name: Tonja Monroe
BHYW regular since: 2012

“I tell people all the time, this yoga does magic! You just have to be patient with it.”

How did you come to the 26&2?

I was training with a personal trainer. She felt like I was really tight, and she wanted to find something for me to do about it. It was our first experience with this type of yoga.

How was your first class?

I got hit in the face with the heat and I was like, “I don’t think I can do this.” But I remember that Debbie said that if you come to class every day it gets easier. You get adjusted to the heat. The more you come to class, the easier it will get. And in my mind, I was like, “Is this some kind of scam?! There’s no way!”

What kept you coming back?

The environment. From the moment I came in, it felt welcoming. I didn’t feel intimidated, even though this was something I had never done before.

I came to class every day for a week, and it did get easier, and it felt soothing. It was stretching all the tightness I had. I didn’t know it was working on other things.

What “other things” did the practice work for you?

I don’t see myself as type A, but I thrive on challenges. It was a hill to climb. Over time, I had to humble myself to it. I thought I was here to conquer it. The conquering is just letting it happen.

Taking myself out of everything and just listening to the words, I found peace. I take each pose, each moment, and I live in that, and let it go.

How does that help you off the mat?

It’s daily. Right now I’m dealing with a lot of stresses with kids and family. It seems like there are constant little challenges. I find myself not trying to conquer it, but to do what I can.

I just take it one moment at a time, just like the postures. Each moment that you’re able to survive, it gives you courage for the next. Then when the next hurdle comes up you can survive that.

As a clinician, what were your thoughts when you started taking classes?

I really appreciated the fact that Debbie has a medical background. I felt safe because she knew about body mechanics, homeostasis. It’s hot in there! There are a lot of stresses on the body.

Then, I started to see what it has done for me. It has helped my body recover from ruptured disks, a torn meniscus, foot drop… the neurologist told me I would probably not get back the use of my foot. That was two years ago now. I tell people all the time, this yoga does magic! You just have to be patient with it.

Favorite posture?

The first breathing exercise. It calms me down and energizes me at the same time. It’s a lot of stress getting here, getting the kids where they need to be. Once I hit the mat and I ground my feet there, and the instructor says “have great class.” I can start to feel myself open up.

Sometimes, when we take breaths, I try to think of something I’m grateful for. I see myself in the mirror and I’m happy for this. I breathe again and I’m happy for that. And then you’re ready to go!

Least favorite posture?

I struggle with standing head to knee. It’s a very complex posture. It’s usually the one you struggle with that you need the most.

If you could tell people one thing about the 26&2, what would it be?

Give it a chance, even if you didn’t like it the first time. I think that a lot of times, people have expectations about what they want from themselves and what they want to get out of the class. If they don’t get it right away, they’re like, “I don’t like that, I’m done.” There’s so much more! Be patient. Do what you can. You’re still getting something out of it, and you don’t even realize it.