Frequently Asked Questions
How long have you been practicing yoga?
As a gradeschooler in the late 70s and early 80s, I had fantastic strength, flexibility, and balance. I could place my legs behind my head and walk on my hands. Our gym teacher taught yoga poses, such as Shoulderstand, which I do today before every class. In 2011, I went on a pilgrimage to visit fourteen temples and mosques in India. The experience left me feeling a deep connection with my Hindu god Ganesha. I chose Bikram Yoga in 2014 because of its brutally honest, regimented way of developing the mind, body, and soul. I completed over 270 Bikram classes in one year and, after 300 classes, attended teacher training to become a certified yoga teacher in the 26+2 series. I completed over 1,300 Bikram classes and several hundred non-Bikram yoga classes. I've also completed over 400 classes and earned a brown belt in the Japanese martial art of aikido. I'm also a USA Archery Level 2 Instructor. In my younger days, I was a runner, a bodybuilder, and a martial artist who studied at the world-famous Chinese Kung-Fu Wu-Su Temple headed by Grandmaster Alan Lee.
Why do you practice yoga almost every day?
Yoga makes me look and feel good. My shoulders look and feel like armor plates. I have muscles up and down my arms and legs that I attribute to yoga. My off-season weight is 136 lbs (61 kg) and my championship weight is 126 lbs (57 kg). I am almost 5'8" (171 cm) and my health vitals are excellent. For someone who is over 50, I look pretty damn good and you can, too, with yoga.
Do you train people?
I am a certified USA Yoga coach and athlete. I can provide expert instruction and private classes for yoga students of all levels in 26+2, Core 40, I.R.I.S., yin yoga, therapeutic yoga, and more. I own a dedicated space in downtown Philadelphia for one-on-one or small group classes and have the latest equipment for flexibility testing.
What is the best way to learn yoga?
Most of us don't have the means to afford private instruction, so the next best thing is to take studio yoga classes. The problems with classes are some can be pretty large and some teachers are more skilled or experienced than others, so your ability to learn and understand the yoga's details will vary from class to class. I recommend attending as many small classes (under ten students) as possible so your teachers really get to know you and follow your progress. You will never learn yoga effectively if you are a fly on the wall in a large class.
Which yoga teachers are your greatest influences?
The following chart shows the teachers who've been my greatest influences. Some of these people have spent extra time with me in or outside of class. Some are great motivators while others have taught me to be more calm. These great teachers taught me what I know so that I can better serve my students. The bubbles closest to me are the teachers who've had the greatest influence on me.
Who were your most influential teachers and how can you present them in such a way that shows how much of an influence they had on you? I encourage everyone to create their own guru bubbles chart. Together we can show the world who helped shape us into the person we are today.
Can you lose weight with yoga?
Yes! I perform all 26 postures to my best ability each day and sweat so much that I lose about three pounds after every class. Of course, I gain some of it back during the day when I eat and drink, but the goal is to control my eating habits and maintain my weight so it goes down a little each day. If you lose one- to two-tenths of a pound every day, you'll look great before you know it. Over the long term, I've discovered that if you want to lose weight, let's say ten pounds, you need to condition yourself to eat like someone who weighs ten pounds less than you. If you stray from that habit and eat as much as you currently do or more, you will not lose any weight and will likely gain more. If you don't want to change your eating habits, you have to add an intensive daily workout regimen like Bikram Yoga.
What if I don't see any physical changes after practicing for more than six months?
You will need to evaluate why this form of exercise is not working for you. Have you changed your eating, sleeping, or drinking habits? Yoga is only one piece of the puzzle. How hard do you push yourself in your practice? Can you go deeper in your postures every day? Can you push yourself further each week, holding every posture for five more seconds? I push myself incredibly hard, to the point of total exhaustion and physical depletion. The people I see with the greatest physical changes are the ones who have done the same. While I would never expect anyone to do what I do, especially at my age, you must realize that half-assed attempts yield substandard results.
Do you practice Ayurveda and are you a vegan?
I love Ayurvedic philosophy and some of the best meals I've ever had were vegan. However, I was raised to survive and adapt to change, so if I had to eat the same exact meal for an extended period of time, I could do so. Bikram tells us that we could eat whatever we want when we practice his yoga and I'm all for that. One of my favorite dishes in the world is not animal or vegan, but vegetarian: navratan korma (nine jewels vegetable curry). I ate lots of it when I was in India. I also love veggie burgers, pav bhaji, and vada pav, all vegetable-based. My philosophy is eat whatever you want, but be mindful of what you eat. Veganism is not inherent in ahimsa. Ahimsa is about non-violence and non-injury, not about the non-use of animal products. Taking the life of an animal or isolating it to poor conditions violates ahimsa, but it depends on the conditions and sourcing of these ingredients. Thoughtful, conscientious, and ethical animal ingredients do exist, and they are perfectly suitable for those who follow yoga and Patañjali’s five Yamas. I come from a Kshatriya - warrior class family - with my parents and grandparents serving in the military and enforcement fields. I hunt for food, not for sport. I consume all that I hunt or give the meat to my dearest friends who want to eat an animal that lived a good life rather than buy prepackaged supermarket meat from an animal that was abused all its life. Just like my Dad who served in the 1st Cavalry Division of the United States Army, I believe in ethical hunting with a "one shot, one kill" philosophy and, like Arjuna, the greatest warrior of all, I hunt with a bow. While I do not practice Ayurveda, I come from a long line of Chinese mothers who've studied and passed on the benefits of Chinese medicine, a practice with deep roots like Ayurveda.
What is Core 40?
Core 40 is a comprehensive 55-posture sequence that works every part of your body. It contains all 26+2 postures and is practiced at more moderate temperatures, from room temperature to 95 degrees. The sequence is designed to be more energizing and invigorating than the standard 26+2 sequence. Many Core 40 teachers alter the sequence to suit their tastes and experiences and may incorporate postures from Tony Sanchez's advanced Core 45 sequence as well as exercises from other disciplines, such as qigong, tai chi, and aikido.
What is your advice on drinking water during a Bikram class?
Many people have seen me sip water sparingly or not at all when I'm taking a class. Drinking a lot of water during class will prevent you from achieving your best postures. My water ritual is to sip ten gulps of water about 60 minutes before class starts and then touch the mouth of my water bottle to my forehead after Eagle, a technique called "quenching the third eye." If it gets brutally hot in the room, I may splash water on my head or belly before Triangle and Fixed Firm. I will not drink any water until the end of class.
What do you say to people who think that Bikram Yoga isn't real yoga?
I wouldn't rely on the knowledge and experience of anyone who hasn't taken over 1,000 classes of anything.
How do you feel about someone who has completed a 30-Day or even a 365-Day Challenge?
I feel it is a blessing to hear of someone who is enthusiastic and serious enough about something to take it that far.
Are you super-flexible?
No, and I feel that that should not be the end goal of your yoga practice. I'm strong first, flexible second. Pound for pound, I'm probably one of the strongest yoginis out there and that enables me to do the interesting flourishes I do in Eagle, Tree, and Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee. Knowing proper hand and arm placement and technique in Eagle allows me to twist my arms slowly and precisely without the need for the ZHOOM!!! windup.
Who is the Wii Fit Trainer, the yoga girl, based on?
Several people have mentioned that Nintendo must've based the Wii Fit Trainer on someone who looks like me. It's who you know (wink).
What is your new book, 123 4Yoga: Yoga Building Blocks, about?
My book allows readers to experience a progressive yoga routine based on their skill level. Students will learn elements of Bikram Method Yoga, Tony Sanchez's Core 40, and aikido and how these movement arts can be joined together to create a synthesized whole. You can order the book online from Barnes & Noble.
What are your goals with yoga?
To forge a multi-disciplinary approach that combines yoga with other movement and meditative arts, including archery and martial arts.
What have you accomplished in yoga?
• Attain my 250-hour teacher training certificate from Evolation Yoga and RYT 200 Yoga Alliance designation. Completed May 2015.
• Attain my Yin Yoga teacher training certificate from Corina Benner of Wakeup Yoga. Completed May 2015.
• Train with Tony Sanchez at Yogic Physical Culture Academy. Completed April 2017.
• Train with Ida Ripley. Completed November 2017.
• Train with Ida Jo and Scott Lamps at Ghosh Yoga. Completed May 2018.
• Author a book on yoga. Completed October 2019.
• Train at Kripalu. Completed March 2020.
• Attain my 300-hour teacher training certificate from Pranakriya Yoga and RYT 500 Yoga Alliance designation. Completed June 2020.
• Train with Esak Garcia at Jedi Fight Club. Completed September 2020.
• Taken over 1,000 Bikram Yoga classes, with additional classes in Ashtanga, Yin, and more. Completed June 2020.
• Compete in a USA Yoga Regional Championship. Rank #4, February 2020. Rank #3, May 2021. Rank #1, February 2022.
• Compete in the USA Yoga National Championship.
Rank #7, August 2020.Rank #4, August 2021.
• Compete in the IYSF World Championship. Rank #6, November 2020. Rank #7, November 2021.
• Compete in the International Yoga Olympic Games. Rank #1 USA, November 2022.
• Compete in the World Championship of Yogasana Sports. Rank #3, January 2022.
• Become a USA Yoga certified coach. Completed January 2021.
Dana Trixie Flynn teaches a Lotus Flow class at Namas Day 2015
Yoganand Michael Carroll with students from Meditation: Theory & Teaching, January 2016
With my fellow teachers at Bikram Yoga Philadelphia (now Hot Yoga Philadelphia), July 2016
Eight Angle (Side Crane), May 2017
Eight Angle (Side Crane), September 2017
Eight Angle (Side Crane), January 2019
One-Legged Peacock, May 2017
Half-Tortoise with Tony Sanchez on my back! March 2017
William Hufschmidt with students from Holding Space: The Energy and Anatomy of Touch, December 2017
William Hufschmidt with students from Anatomy for Yoga Teachers, January 2019
I have a long history of teaching people from the high school to graduate school levels. My overall life experiences as an educator, administrator, student, and parent have shaped me into the yoga teacher I am.
Yoga Teacher Training
- 250-Hour Hot Yoga Teacher Training with Mark Drost, Zefea Samson, Maria Filippone, Susan Wyler, Torrey Trover, Evolation Yoga, April 2015
- 30-Hour Yin Yoga Teacher Training with Corina Benner, Wake Up Yoga, May 2015
- 200-Hour Beyond 26+2 Teacher Training with Tony Sanchez, April 2017
- 300-Hour Pranakriya School of Yoga Healing Arts Teacher Training, June 2020
- CPR/AED certified, Emergency Care and Safety Institute, March 2019 to March 2021
Seminars and Workshops
- Vital Signs: Understanding What the Body Is Telling Us with Connie Scanga, University of Pennsylvania, June 2014
- Mt. Hood Bikram Yoga Retreat with Joel Pier, August 2014
- Introduction to Mindfulness, University of Pennsylvania, February 2015
- Gentle Yoga with Laura Edoff, University of Pennsylvania,
- Foundation Training with Chris Fluck, Bikram Yoga Philadelphia, February 2015
- Master Class with Jena Blackwood, June 2015
- Shake Stress Naturally with TRE (Tension and Trauma Release Exercise) with Juliette Gamble, June 2017
- Ida Ripley's Intermediate Series (I.R.I.S) with Ida Ripley, November 2017
- Magic of Flight: AcroYoga with Eric Mamuzich, April 2018
- Yoga Therapy for Pain Relief by Theresa Convoy, April 2018
- Ghosh Yoga Workshop with Ida Jo and Scott Lamps, May 2018
- Jedi Fight Club with Esak Garcia, September 2020
- Diploma, Mark Twain Intermediate School for the Gifted & Talented, 1982
- Diploma, Brooklyn Technical High School, 1985
- B.A. with Distinction, Magna Cum Laude, and Phi Beta Kappa honors, Boston University, 1989
- M.A., Boston University, 1989
- M.S.E., University of Pennsylvania, 1991
- M.L., University of Pennsylvania Law School, 2024 expected