We are so happy to welcome Angela Moulin Sinclair to Bikram Yoga Capital Area! Her passion for this yoga as well as her nearly two decades of experience make her such a wonderful and positive part of our yoga community.
Angela and I first met at a Mary Jarvis Lake Michigan Shapeshifting retreat in the summer of 2018, but our shared history goes back to many similar experiences in the early 2000s at Bikram Yoga Teacher Training (at La Cienega Headquarters, Los Angeles).
Both before and after we met, we have shared experiences and a similar outlook on this yoga. Her story is a good one; we hope you enjoy it! –Ann
I was born with a birth defect called Hip Dysplasia, a condition where the hip socket doesn’t fully cover the ball portion of the upper thighbone. This allows the hip joint to dislocate easily and has led to knocked knees, as well as the inability for my feet to touch one another when I stand. The medical treatment for this condition is usually surgery, heavy pain pills, and arthritis medication.
I grew up in Humboldt, Kansas. My mother did not allow any western medicine to be practiced on me as an infant nor into my teen years. I developed arthritis as a teen, went to a chiropractor weekly; I also took supplements and over-the-counter pain pills (mainly aspirin). I even wore a hip brace all thru jr high and high school. My mother tried so many things with me to such an extent that I now have a hard time swallowing pills of any sorts.
When I did any extreme activities I would be in severe pain. I also could not sit nor stand for long without pain. I was told I would probably need to have hip replacement surgery later in life.
As a result of not being active, I was an overweight teen and young adult. I essentially have been overweight and in pain most of my life. As a teen, I turned to alcohol and marijuana to ease pain.
My Path to Bikram Yoga
In January 2000, my brother died of a very aggressive cancer of the stomach lining. Even though my mother raised us to be against western medicine, my brother would have fought his cancer with it. However, he was not given any chance to live when he was diagnosed.
When my brother died, he had lived in Boulder for almost 20 years. He had moved to Colorado to enjoy the active lifestyle that he had always had. He was always so healthy, and he loved the outdoors.
As he was dying, he talked to me about a yoga that heated the room. He knew I would struggle when he died, and he wanted me to find something that would help me. He had not actually tried it, but he thought I would enjoy it since I was already doing yoga and some other low impact activities for my birth defect.
So on Memorial Day Weekend of 2000, my daughter (who was 9 at the time), my new boyfriend, and I went to Boulder to decorate my brother’s grave and to spend time in memory of him. I went a tried a class at Radha Garcia’s yoga school (Bikram Yoga Boulder); my first teacher was Esak. I sat a lot. I remember that it was so hot I could not bare it!
I really did not have good heat tolerance to begin with. In 1986 on a river float trip with friends and family, I overheated and had a mild heat stroke. From that point on, heat was very hard for me to deal with.
But in doing the class, I felt very close to my brother. And after that first class I walked freely for what felt like the first time in my life. It was the first time I felt so little pain and not much of a limp. I took no pain medications that day, which was a big deal because pain meds were a part of my life then. I was 32 years old at the time.
Making Bikram Yoga Part of My Life
At the time I was a single mom living in Lawrence, Kansas, working as an independent hairdresser. But I found excuses to go to Boulder every chance I could, so I could take Bikram Yoga. (Lawrence had no Bikram Yoga at that time.)
I ended up marrying that man who went to my first Bikram class with me, and we were married for 17 years.
In early spring 2001, a lady from Lawrence who had gone to Bikram Yoga Teacher Training had just opened a hot studio in her garage. It fit 7 people in it, and our changing room was a tent set up in her yard. You had to get there early because once 7 people showed up she could not fit any more in!
I didn’t like the class very much because she was pretty mean. She just didn’t have much compassion – I guess maybe she had never suffered. If you sat down, she would ask you to leave. If you didn’t get in a posture in time, she would call you out by your name and say that everyone should egg you when class is over because you were making everyone else stay in class longer.
Her classes were very stressful for me and gave me a lot of anxiety. But while in class what I did feel was closer to my brother. And I got relief in my hips and lower back…and I had less limping when I walked out. I learned to block the teacher out and just do the yoga.
New teachers eventually came back from Bikram’s Teacher Training. I was a silent practitioner and worked hard, so more and more the owner left me alone. Even though she did not seem to have much compassion, I always loved the structure and discipline she taught. So I think she knew I respected her and was going to give my respect. When I cut hair, I always talked a lot about the yoga and promoted her yoga school. So we grew to have an ok relationship.
Dreaming of Bikram Yoga Teacher Training
Within 6 months of starting to practice Bikram Yoga, I started having dreams of traveling a long way from home and meeting a man of great wisdom. My dreams also included driving down a highway, and along the way seeing an assortment of garage doors, painted with all kinds of beautiful designs on them.
In one of the dreams I would have, I would be sitting, waiting for a presence to enter the room, but when this presence entered, I felt so inferior I would hide in the back closets. I didn’t tell the school owner about my dream, but I did tell my new husband. He was very supportive and encouraged me to attend Bikram’s training.
When I approached the Bikram Yoga school owner in Lawrence about going to the teacher training, she told me she would write me a recommendation letter, but she said she wouldn’t hire me. She would remind me that I was not very good at the practice, but she did write me the letter I needed.
So I went to Bikram Yoga Teacher Training (BYTT) in Spring 2003. I did it because I felt I needed to share the great news of this medicine that didn’t need to be injected nor swallowed.
I also had the support of my daughter (who was 12 at the time) as well as my new husband. I felt crazy leaving her and a new husband and a very successful hair salon business! I had never left my daughter for more than a weekend at that point. I would make jokes about the fact I had to go to this training so I could make these dreams go away.
Arrival in Los Angeles
When I got to training, it felt like déja vu. I saw these closets in the back of the training room (the ones from my dreams where I wanted to hide). And I felt intimidated by just about everyone.
Everyone except Bikram. Bikram gave me a sense of acceptance and compassion that the “senior” teachers and other students did not.
One weekend, my group went to Paramahansa Yogananda’s Self-Realization Fellowship center. And there were those garage doors with painted murals on them…from my dream! At that moment, I knew I had made the right decision to come to TT.
Compassion and Acceptance from Bikram
I detoxed (cried!) a lot during my training. So much so that Bikram nicknamed me “Bawl Baby”.
I laughed so hard when he called me that, I stopped crying. In that moment, he smiled, and we have gotten along ever since. I have found so much warmth and compassion in Bikram.
I went back to his teacher training to get re-certified in 2006, 2009, and 2012, in addition to visiting him a lot at his trainings in the U.S., Hawaii, and Mexico. I even sent my daughter Alex to training in Spring 2012.
I have had great experiences with Bikram and have always felt safe around him.
The best part of my training was when I bounced off of Robert Downey Jr.’s chest. He was at our training working with Bikram and some of his teachers to break his heroin addiction.
Bikram asked all of us to not speak to him nor bother him in any way. So one day I was walking with my head down, and I bumped into Robert Downey Jr. as he was walking down the hall. I looked up, saw it was him, and said nothing.
The next thing I knew, a huge fight broke out in the lobby with a man that walked in and was insulting Rajashree. I looked over at Bikram, and as he looked back, he came over to me, put his arm around me, and said, “Bawl Baby, what should I do?”
I replied, “Kick him out! He is insulting your wife.”
I am not sure why that sticks with me the most, but it was incredible to me that he would come to me in a split second and ask me for advice.
Back in Lawrence
After I finished the nine weeks of training, I went back to Lawrence. The owner had told me she was never going to have me teach, but I practiced daily. One day, one of the school helpers called the owner (on a day that the owner’s kid was sick), and told her that she should let me teach. So I taught a class, and the students loved me. I cried at the end of that class with such gratitude. I was in love with teaching.
The student body requested me, and even though I didn’t have the blessing of the school owner, she put me on her schedule. The owner would never call me her manager because of her own ego, but I basically started managing her school while I operated my small hair shop.
Meeting Mary Jarvis
In 2004, I met Mary Jarvis while teaching and practicing in Lawrence. The USA Yoga Competitions had just started in the Fall of 2003, so Mary would come and work with the competitors. I stayed in touch with Mary, and whenever I could, I would go see her wherever she was teaching. I would try to talk to her at the competitions whenever I could attend them.
Later, when I had my own school, I invited Mary to visit at least once a year.
Because of practicing with Mary, I stopped used alcohol and marijuana as self-medication. With Mary’s Shapeshifting plus the regular Bikram yoga class, my body just rejects those two drugs.
I am 51 years old, and I still have both of my natural hips!
With Mary’s creation plus the yoga, I have been able to control my weight, which helps to have less weight bearing on my hips. I feel confident that with regular practice, I will continue to keep feeling better physically.
Looking for the Place for My School
In 2007, my husband was taking over his father’s insurance brokerage, and we had to move to Kansas City. No one had yet opened a Bikram Yoga school there. I told my husband that the benefits were so good and that I could not live without the yoga.
I had no idea how nor where I was going to have a school. At that time, we had a 2-year-old, along with my daughter starting high school.
And then…here came the dreams again.
This time I knew it was Bikram who was in my dreams. In the dream, we sat together on a hill with beautiful green grass.
I knew nothing about Kansas City at the time. When I told my husband about the area I thought my dream could be about, he would say, “If that’s the place, I think it’s unsafe.”
One day, I put my toddler son in this old truck we had at the time, and I drove around the area.
So I pulled up in front of a bus stop. I thought: “Are you kidding me? This is where I am supposed to open?”
There was zero parking. But I did see a space for lease with a phone number on it. I called the number and asked to look at this spot.
I spoke with the realtor and explained to him about this yoga practice. He said he had another realtor friend in Chicago who had leased a space to a Bikram Yoga school, and that it had been very successful. This was all at the time before Google made it easy to find things, so a lot of this was word of mouth, knowing the right person, or driving around a lot to search for available spots for lease.
Ultimately, the Kansas City realtor helped finance the build-out of my school, as he was building a new shopping center in an area that had been known for drugs and crime. He wanted to change the neighborhood and believed in me and the potential of this yoga.
The yoga school really made a difference in the neighborhood. A chiropractor later moved in to the shopping center, along with several other small busineses, and the neighborhood really got nicer.
Opening Bikram Yoga Kansas City
So I opened our first Bikram Yoga school in Kansas City. I commuted an hour each way – every day except for Sunday – until my daughter graduated from high school.
On my grand opening day – March 2, 2007 – I made $12,000. There had been a lot of doubt – on the part of other local teachers – about whether I could teach, and whether I could even open a successful studio.
So when I had such a good opening day, I called Bikram to tell him the good news; he and I could not believe it.
The media always says we are franchises, but we just never have been. Bikram never once asked me for any money. I did have to sign an affiliation agreement that I would use his name and only use his teachers. But I was proud to do it.
For almost 11 years, I operated under the name Bikram Yoga College of India, Kansas City, Missouri.
In 2017, I changed my name to Hot Yoga Cure Kansas City. Partly because I added a few classes on my schedule that weren’t strictly Bikram Yoga, but also because I had listened to many people who were full of judgment and hate towards Bikram. People who didn’t know the man (Bikram) that I knew.
But I know in my heart and in my experience that his method and his dialogue WORK! I feel very strongly that changing the name was the wrong decision for me.
If I ever reopened, I would definitely call it Bikram Yoga again, and I would stick to the Bikram Yoga practice.
At my school in Kansas City, I taught Jack Black, Alex Rodriguez, Jewell, and Idina Menzel, among others. Also some local celebrities such as Rex Huddler (announcer for the Royals), and retired baseball player Brian McRae (NY Mets, Chicago Cubs, and KC Royals).
Curing My Emotional Eating
When my brother had died back in 2000, I became an emotional eater; I went from 140 lbs. to 200 lbs. in six months. I didn’t realize for years, though, that I was eating as a way to distract me from my painful emotions.
At a certain point in my yoga practice, one of my teachers challenged me to stop drinking water in class. That I could bring it in, but not touch it.
I soon realized that I was using my water during class like a security blanket. Anytime I was uncomfortable, I would drink water. It was just like the emotional eating. Something to distract myself from whatever physical or emotional discomfort I was feeling at the time.
When I stopped using the water like that during class, I also stopped the emotional eating. What freedom!!
So, many years later, (around 2007-08) we had a Hallowe’en class at my school, where we all wore costumes for class. I dressed up as a baby, and I had a baby’s bottle for my water bottle.
It symbolized the way I used to try to escape discomfort or pain with a distraction – both my chugging of water during class and my emotional eating.
Closing My School
In 2019, my life took a turn that I would not have wished for – nor would want for anyone. My husband filed for divorce at the same time that my yoga school’s building sold (and all business had to move out). Right around the same time, my father had a massive heart attack and was put in a nursing home.
At that time, I chose not to relocate my school; I wanted to be available to help my father pass away.
After my father passed in September 2019, I thought about reopening a yoga school in Kansas City, but I was struggling to find a location and hitting many roadblocks. I even looked for other jobs and was doing some hairdressing again.
But I soon realized I was not supposed to have any other job besides teaching Bikram Yoga! So I recently decided to travel to schools and teach; that maybe this is the right job for me right now. I know that I need the medicine of Bikram Yoga.
This way I can continue my passion and path to share the good news about this yoga practice and about Mary Jarvis’s Shapeshifting.
A New Start in 2020
As of early January 2020, I hadn’t had a regular Bikram practice at a school since April 2019. Up until I arrived here at Bikram Yoga Capital Area, I had been limping and feeling crippled almost constantly.
Now, after less than 10 days of practicing regularly (including some doubles!), I am already walking noticeably better.
The Bikram sequence done in the hot room is the only yoga I have found that takes the pain away. I have learned that my practice needs to be daily. Five times a week is the minimum I should go.
I have also found that I need to be practicing Mary Jarvis’ Yoga Shapeshifting regularly. With Mary’s practice, my feet are closer to touching each other than they have ever been. And it lessens the squeezing together of my inner knees, so my knee pain is less. What Mary created from her car accident is so healing for injuries and joint problems.
What I Love About Bikram Yoga
What I love about Bikram Yoga the most is the structure, the discipline, and the fact that I can handle my hardships. It makes me feel forgiveness and love from the depths of my heart and soul.
I love that I can walk without pain and with little limp. That I can be active without needing to take pain meds.
I have recovered from the tendency to have heat stroke and now can tolerate all levels of temperatures. I love that I sleep well, and that I overall just feel good.
I love empowering people to find their fullest potential, and to seek truth.
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Thank you so much for this opportunity to be a part of your Bikram Yoga school.
Peace and Love,
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