Ever wonder who beautifies the chalkboard at the Riverdale studio to keep you up to date on the latest and greatest studio news? You might be surprised to find out, its one of our very own BYW instructors! What might be more surprising is that someone this artistic could play and watch football for hours on end…
Let’s see how Maggie Sullivan’s diverse talents and gambles in life have paid off and led her to Bikram Yoga Wellness Works (BYW) as she approached her 2-year Bikram anniversary earlier this year…
BEING AN ATHLETE
You grew up playing competitive sports and continue to play football – how did you discover Bikram and how do you feel it relates to your athletic upbringing?
My first Bikram Yoga class was a nightmare. It was at another studio in 2014.
I got to Party Time (water break) and left the class, never to return until 2017.
I started at BYW as a hot Pilates student to gain core strength. After a year filled with consecutive injuries, my football trainer suggested I try the yoga to gain flexibility to prevent more injuries. I never saw myself doing yoga. As an athlete you’re used to high-intensity, constant movement so sitting in a room and breathing was never attractive. Bikram is a high intensity yoga and it was perfect. I immediately started to feel more agile on the football field, better awareness of hydration and more in tune with what my body needed nutritionally.
BEING AN INSTRUCTOR
How long have you been a Bikram and Pilates instructor? Do you feel that the two practices complement one another?
I began teaching Pilates in January of 2018 and Bikram in June of 2018. Bikram is a balance of strength and flexibility. For the flexible types, Pilates increases core strength necessary to hold the postures and even go deeper into them. The discipline and breathing techniques of the yoga translate to the Pilates class to help with the main focus, form and breath.
JOURNEYING THROUGH BIKRAM YOGA WELLNESS WORKS
How long have you been with BYW?
I found BYW through Groupon in the fall of 2016 and took only Pilates until April 2017 when I decided to give the yoga another shot. I have only taught with BYW and it has been the best decision ever.
Kendra has created a wonderful platform for students to become teachers through an amazing sense of community and unity.
All the teachers support one another as teachers and humans in general.
What is it like having Kendra, BYW Co-Owner, and Ambiya, BYW instructor, as your mentors? Seems like a powerful combination to have in your corner.
In order to go to Bikram Yoga Teacher Training you must have a mentor who is willing to work with you and provide teaching opportunities. Kendra is just that. Ambiya was the first Teacher I took a class with at BYW and I was drawn to her style from day one. She has an immense amount of knowledge that I connected with every class I took and I continue to learn a great deal from her. Both Kendra and Ambiya have incredible corrections to offer students so when I take their classes, I further my teaching by listening to their corrections for both myself and other students to use those same corrections in my classes. Ty, BYW Regional Director, was the reason I became a Pilates teacher, so she is also responsible for a lot of my growth. Her energy is contagious. She, too, has an athletic background so her intensity and encouragement is also transferred into my classes.
You’re known for bringing your humor into the hot room – how does your personality fit with your teaching style?
I’m a goofball at heart and love to have a good time. People have this preconceived notion that yoga is rigid and stuck up. I did when I started. Students think all teachers meditate and eat kale and live life staring through their third eye. Bikram is hard. Pilates is tough. Laughter is the best medicine regardless of the situation. Adding humor creates a positive and fun environment and makes the modalities more approachable. When you’re sweating your butt off and struggling hard as heck, a good laugh makes it easier to get through and, better yet, come back the next day!
What is the best thing about being a part of the BYW community?
Everything. Kendra and Omekongo, BYW Co-Owner, have created a safe place for all walks of life to enjoy and develop self-care. The teachers and the students are a family. We go to each other’s events outside of the studio. We support each other in everything we do. I truly love everyone I have encountered at BYW because they have taught me something about life, myself, humanity, acceptance…everything! The love is real. Starting as a student and becoming a teacher has allowed me to grow into who I am with the support of kind, loving people who truly want the best for me.
Your Bikram anniversary is coming up – what does that bring up for you?
I started as a student. Then in the work study program. Then Pilates. Then Bikram. And I will completed FST in May. Never did I ever think this is where my life would be but I am absolutely loving it. BYW really made me from the bottom up. I understand the values of BYW because it’s what kept me as a student and turned me into a teacher.
The journey feels like a dream, but a great one!
I still can’t believe I celebrated my 2-year practice anniversary on April 6th and to think that within such short time I have created a career out of something I initially walked away from completely. I am forever grateful to have found BYW.
You teach at all days/times/the different BYW locations and make it look easy – how do you manage your schedule?
Naps! I am very aware of my body and what it needs when it needs it. And I respect that. If I need to practice, I do. If I need to take a day off, I do. Teaching is not “work”. I never say “I’m going to work”. I say “I’m going to the studio”. I worked in the hospitality industry for years which was high-stress, low-appreciation. I now make a living in a stress-free, high-appreciation, forever rewarding industry.
When people ask what I do for a living my response is “I change lives”.
BEING A RENAISSANCE WOMAN
Anything you want to share that most people do not know about you :)?
I have a lot of hidden talents and I will always try anything once. I rowed Women’s Crew at the University of Michigan. I have a degree in Art with a focus on Typography and Branding. I love to bake and cook (my mom is a chef). I will watch football all day if I could. I rode horses competitively for 10 years. I am an only child. And my favorite color is Green.
UPDATE: Maggie is now an official certified STRETCH TO WIN Level 1 Fascia Stretch Therapist (FST) so she can make you sweat then stretch you out.
To take a class with Maggie and to schedule an FST session check out the BWY App. Oh and don’t forget to check out her art work and the studio announcements on the chalkboard at a BYW near you!
INDEPENDENTLY OWNED AND OPERATED
BikramYogaWorks studios are independently owned and operated and each location was conceived with YOU in mind. Our intention is to provide you with an exceptional experience from the moment you walk into our studios until you leave our doors. Our state-of-the art facilities offer a friendly environment and several amenities for your comfort and convenience, including plenty of parking, spacious locker rooms and ample showers and a networking zone to meet fellow yogis and like-minded individuals. We also offer a range of classes to meet your needs including Bikram Yoga, LifeStretch, Hot Pilates, and Hot Barre. Wellness services include Cryotherapy (full body and localized), PEMF Therapy (Pulsed Electromagnetic Field), and Fascia Stretch Therapy (FST).
6 locations: Riverdale Park, MD, Ivy City, Takoma Park, MD, Ivy City Washington, DC, Baltimore, MD, Boston, MS and District Heights, MD NOW OPEN!