Our Teachers and Experience
All instructors here are part of a direct and undiluted teaching lineage in the Calcutta tradition of Bishnu Ghosh and Bikram Choudhury. Our high teaching standards include a minimum of 500 practice hours before training, 500 hours of teacher training within the lineage, and a long-term apprenticeship with our school director, who is a Level 3 teacher registered with the Original Hot Yoga Association and a senior Certified Bikram Yoga instructor (BYTT ‘04).
Our standards for accepting trainees for apprenticeships are the highest in the state of Michigan, ensuring that all yoga students receive detailed attention on correct techniques and approaches. While each teacher has a unique approach and demeanor in the class, we encourage students to attend all teachers’ classes to get the most well-rounded experience and instruction. Read more about our teacher training and standards here.
Carolyn Meitz – Raja Yoga Academy Graduate, 2018
BYCA Apprenticing Teacher
Carolyn is a retired public school elementary teacher and musician. She began practicing Bikram Yoga in October 2014 to supplement strength training for triathlon training and found it to be much more therapeutic than she had ever imagined. Truly experiencing how yoga practice extends far beyond a yoga mat, she is grateful to have learned so much about gratitude, compassion, and presence through her Bikram Yoga practice. While a practitioner at Bikram Yoga Grand Rapids, Carolyn regularly attended Ann’s posture workshops at BYCA. She is truly a lifelong learner, and she is so grateful for the opportunity to share her love for this amazing yoga!
Angela Sinclair – Bikram Yoga Teacher Training Graduate, 2003
Visiting Teacher; Founder and former owner of Bikram Yoga Kansas City
Angela was born with hip dysplasia and developed arthritis as a teenager. She struggled with pain, excess weight, and various forms of self-medication. In 2000 she took her first Bikram Yoga class in Boulder, Colorado. After completing Bikram Yoga Teacher Training in 2003, she taught in Lawrence, Kansas, and then went on to open Bikram’s Yoga College of India Kansas City in 2007. Angela has practiced with Mary Jarvis since 2004 and credits Bikram Yoga and Yoga Shapeshifting with the fact that she still has both of her natural hips – they are the only practices that take the pain away! Read Angela’s inspiring yoga story here!
“What I love about the yoga the most is the structure, the discipline, and the fact that I can handle my hardships and feel forgiveness and love from the depths of my heart and soul. That I walk without pain and with little limp. That I can be active without needing to take pain medications. That I can now tolerate all levels of temperatures…and I love that I sleep well. I love empowering people to find their fullest potential!”
Michael Fine – Raja Yoga Academy Graduate, 2016
BYCA Visiting Teacher and Remover of Excuses
You will find Michael involved in all aspects of BYCA – from the cover of our brochure and founding supporter of our non-profit Ten Percent Project, to teaching classes and in regular mentorship conversations with Ann.
Michael uses Bikram Yoga to reduce his chronic phantom limb pain from a 2010 car accident that traumatically amputated his left arm at the shoulder. He has practiced this yoga nearly everyday since 2011!
In Michael’s words: “All you need to do yoga is a spine; two arms are optional!”
Lisa Marie – BYTT Graduate, Fall 2012
Lisa Marie began her regular Bikram practice in the winter of 2012. By fall of that year, she gave up her previous life in Portland and went off to Bikram’s Teacher Training in Los Angeles. She attended Bernie Clark’s Yin Teacher Training in the summer of 2016, and has practiced & trained extensively with Ida Jo and Scott Lamps.
“My practice keeps me challenged and provides a quiet place in my brain, two things I believe are key to feeling youthful and staying sane in a loud and frenetic world. It teaches me patience with myself and others, and that all things are yoga: related and a work in progress. A bonus is that my family likes me much better since I started my Bikram practice – I am sober, much more calm and less anxious in general, and I even quit smoking the day before training, never to smoke again.”
Lisa Marie loves teaching! She says that it has given her faith in and hope for humanity: “Just watching people come in and try to better themselves, the hard and honest way, one day at a time, is so inspiring!”
When Lisa Marie is not teaching or practicing or thinking about yoga, she can often be found sewing something beautiful in her opulent and cozy school bus, Grace, where she lives full time.
Vic Whipp – BYCA Apprentice
Vic first discovered Bikram Yoga in Naples, Florida, and has practiced at over 30 studios in 15 states around the country. A golf professional for over 25 years, he brings an astute and experienced coaching perspective to the class. The depth and breadth of Vic’s thoughtfulness and self-directed studies are a tremendous asset to BYCA. He completed the Isha Yoga Inner Engineering Program in 2016.
Ann Chrapkiewicz – BYCA Mentoring Senior Teacher and Trainer
Ann started practicing yoga in 2003 in Ann Arbor, MI. She completed Bikram Yoga Teacher Training at La Cienega HQ in Los Angeles (August 2004). Before opening BYCA in 2013, she taught at nearly all of the Bikram Yoga schools in Michigan. She has over 5000 hours of teaching experience and leads workshops locally and internationally.
Her teaching is strongly influenced by her degrees in Literature and Media Studies (B.A. 2000, Duke U.), Asian Studies (M.A. 2006 UM-Ann Arbor), and Medical Anthropology (M.A. 2010 MSU). Her yoga background also includes immersive initiation programs with Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev (2006 & 2018) and Shibendu Lahiri (2010), as well as the Isha Hatha Yogasanas beginning yoga program (2017).
Ann placed 3rd overall in the 2017 USA Yoga Midwest Asana Championships and was the Michigan representative to the 2017 USA Yoga National Championships, where she placed 31st.
Ann enjoys working with youth, coaches, athletes, pregnant women, and those with limited mobility, chronic pain, paralysis, or injuries. She is nearly completed with her co-authored book project – with BYCA student Jennifer Lane – about the effects of Bikram Yoga on autoimmune diseases.
Why Bikram Yoga?
Bikram Yoga is a consistent, therapeutic practice for beginners of all ages. It has been practiced in same form since the early 1970s and is supported by scientific research. Of the various forms of yoga available today, it has the most direct roots to the physical culture and yoga therapy movements of early-mid 20th century Calcutta, India.
One of our missions at BYCA is to raise the bar for yoga teaching, in order to retain and transmit the principles of 20th century therapeutic hatha yoga to the interested public, and in order to provide the maximum benefit to every level of yoga student.
While most yoga classes and studios in North America have shifted to a mix-and-match fitness class model, we retain and educate our students in the elements of a single lineage of therapeutic hatha yoga. This requires significant dedication and investment of practice and study on the part of every teacher.
Most yoga studios in the United States hold teacher trainings as a necessary part of their bottom line, and accept any and all interested students. Many teacher trainers at these programs are relatively new teachers themselves, often having less than 5 years of practice or teaching experience. These programs allow you to pay for use of the RYT designation with Yoga Alliance.
We do not participate in this business or affiliation model, as it quickly dilutes and weakens traditional practices and creates a competitive, unsustainable situation.
Instead we endeavor to selectively invite seasoned practitioners, leaders, and disciplined practitioners to carry on the lineage to the next generations. All of our teachers exceed the minimum training standards of the Original Hot Yoga Association, which themselves far exceed those set by Yoga Alliance.
For students who want to deepen their practice, we regularly hold continuing education programs, intermediate classes, Yoga Studies Immersions, and visiting teacher workshops.
Before being invited or recommended to train and apprentice as a teacher, we require the following:
- A minimum of 2 years of consistent, mindful practice at BYCA
- Exemplary discipline and positive leadership inside and outside of the yoga room: in practice, word, care of facilities, actions, and encouragement of others
- Commitment to maintain the integrity of the Ghosh-Bikram lineage and approaches
- Commitment to support and contribute positively to the BYCA community, in word and action
- Commitment to a long-term mentorship relationship with Ann and other senior lineage teachers, for the benefit of yoga students and integrity of the practice
- If desiring to expand the community of practitioners to another school, agreement to take it to an area no less than 25 miles from BYCA, in order to bring the yoga to those who do not yet have access
Once accepted as a trainee, there are several components of training, including class observations, mentorship discussions, residential/immersive training, student-teaching at BYCA, and ongoing teacher mentorship courses.
We support the following training programs as part of the complete BYCA Training and Student-Teaching process:
The original Bikram Yoga teacher training run by Bikram Choudhury and senior mentoring teachers from around the world. Held at various international locations once or twice per year for 9 consecutive weeks. 500+ hours, residential.
BYCA Long-Term Apprenticeship
500 hours, local and away. BYCA Owner Ann Chrapkiewicz is approved as a Level 3 teacher with the Original Hot Yoga Association and qualified to lead teacher trainings and continuing education in the lineage. Short-term immersions with Ann and other senior teachers in the lineage are also required as part of this program. Once initial prerequisites have been met, please contact Ann for more details.
For those wishing to work with students one-on-one to prescribe therapeutic exercises in the Ghosh lineage, this 3-week study is directed by Muktamala Mitra, granddaughter of Bishnu Ghosh. Held at Ghosh’s Yoga College in Calcutta, India. Residential. This course does not prepare you to lead a group class but does deepen your knowledge and understanding of therapeutic indications. Detailed program information can be found here.