12 Years and Thriving: What Long-term Yoga Practice Has Taught Us (and You!)

As Thrive Hot Yoga celebrates our 12th (12th!!) year serving the Detroit community, we reached out to our instructors and students to talk about the long-term benefits of yoga practice. We asked them things like “What does long-term practice look like to you?” and “How does your life benefit?” The answers we received blew us away—not because they were surprising (we have, after all, staked our career on yoga’s awesomeness), but because so many people see Thrive as a way to truly thrive.

And we’re so grateful to be a part of it.

Whether you’ve just started your yoga journey or have been finding yourself in Tree Pose for years, your long-term practice has several benefits in store for you. Keep reading to learn what others have found along the way—and what you can look forward to!

Long-term Yoga Benefit:

The Fountain of Youth.

You’re only as old as you feel, as the saying goes—and yoga students tend to say that all the time. “Flexibility and balance are key as I get older,” says instructor Frances O'Laughlin. “Yoga lets me move around like a much younger person and to think quickly—delaying the aging process a lot!”

“The instructors are right—your body is different every time you come to class,” says Gloria Yarber, Thrive Hot Yoga student. “My physical flexibility has improved. My knee joints have some arthritis, and the medical field recommends yoga to offset the side effects. I would recommend Thrive Yoga to anyone from the young to the very old, you just have to keep coming!”

Says instructor Linda Kay, “I’m old. And I feel incredible every day.”

Long-term Yoga Benefit:

A Healthy Dose of Self Awareness.

Being conscious of your own character, motivations, and feelings creates space for curiosity, intentional growth, acceptance, love, and kindness. These “soft” skills allow you to gracefully navigate life’s harder and darker moments by tapping into your brilliant resilience.

Our instructors echo this sentiment. “Maintaining mental wellness and calmness has probably been the greatest benefit of long term practice for me,” says Yvonne Duban, a class instructor. Deepa Bagri, also an instructor, adds, “Learning about myself through this practice is the greatest gift from this practice. Every time I practice it's a reminder of who I really am!”

“Yoga has helped me face trauma in my life, work through the haze, and not allow past insults nor my reactions to define me,” adds Beverly Lochard, Thrive student. “Through consistent practice, I am able to navigate each day with more composure, evenness of temper and mental calmness.”

“Since I began practicing about five years ago 4-5 times a week I have developed a stronger mindset dealing with everyday situations,” says Damon Fueri, Thrive Hot Yoga student. “I have also become more flexible physically which helps with my distance running passion. Since the offering of the different classes at the studio (Yin Yoga, Hot Pilates, Hot 60 Express) my practice is much more consistent!”

Long-term Yoga Benefit:

The Community

Long-term yoga practice not only allows for an intensely personal connection to your Self, but it also increases your awareness of how much you share with others—breath, space, emotions, this world...and your feelings about Awkward pose.

“My favorite long-term yoga benefits are the community—feeling a part of something greater than myself,” says instructor Erika Budson. “Also the mental clarity. Feeling powerful. Feeling comfortable in my own skin. Being connected.”

“When I come to my sweaty yoga mat at Thrive Hot Yoga, I find myself embracing joy, pain, anxiety, depression, fear, space, stillness all in the presence of my fellow yogis,” says Leah Fairbank, long-time Thrive Hot Yoga student. “I have laughed. I have cried. I have been frustrated. I have faced a full spectrum of emotions, and I have had my breakthroughs. Earlier on in my practice I would come to the mat and compete with myself to try and muscle through. After the past few years, I have started to listen to more of the subtle whisper and influence of the postures to find the space of gentle and loving openings, to smile deep within my tissues.”

“I started coming to Thrive Hot Yoga (back when it was Detroit Bikram) 15 years ago. I was (and still am) battling Lupus, an autoimmune disease, and I noticed the specific series of postures—and sweat, stretching, strengthening—helped my symptoms,” adds Lynn Crawford, Thrive Hot Yoga member. “The practice has been a life-changer for me. I still face challenges because of my autoimmune disease, but I am able to control it and stay off medication. I owe this, I believe, to Hot Yoga. Over the years something else happened: I encountered one of the most beautiful communities ever! The teachers, desk staff and practitioners are a wonderful inspiring group. We all look out for one another (which often happens during practice!) and I thank the "spirits" (what or whoever they may be) for what Thrive provides, from the bottom of my heart, every single day!”

Long-term Yoga Benefit:

An Intentional Departure

In a world where we are constantly involved, on-call, and plugged in, it is increasingly difficult to set time aside to focus on ourselves. Regular yoga practice provides this retreat in the physical sense while constantly coaching us to maintain stillness in spite of external and internal distractions.

“Yoga has become a place to disconnect and reconnect at the same time,” Thrive instructor Carrie Gabriel Adams says. “Some time away from life is always needed. Plus my personal benefits were decreased inflammation, improved flexibility and self-discipline, and stillness in a world where we are constantly on the go.”

“It’s the only space in my life that I’m inaccessible to anyone except myself,” says instructor Michelle Hewitt, who started with Thrive in 2007. “It is amazing to feel so singular yet also so connected at the same time.”

Long-Term Yoga Benefit:

A Deeper Understanding of Life and Purpose

“We can’t imagine our lives without regular practice,” says Gabriella and Adam, who have both been practicing for over 20 years. “Gabi has even practiced it through four pregnancies. Some days it’s about strengthening and stretching. Some days it’s about sweating out the physical and emotional or psychological toxins that we all carry with us every day. In the months after our oldest daughter Michaela unexpectedly passed away, we hardly left the house, except to attend classes. It expressed our commitment to staying sane and healthy for the sake of our surviving children. We are entirely devoted to hot yoga. When we talk about our long term goals, practicing Bikram always features at the top of our list. The studios, the instructors, and the community have profoundly enriched our lives. For that we are forever grateful.”

Yoga creates a waterfall of health benefits that go beyond the strength, stamina, and flexibility of the body. Once you open the floodgates and do so on a regular basis, your cup runneth over in a variety of positive ways, from improved emotional health to increased resilience to sharper mental focus.

Thank you for allowing us to be part of your physical, mental, spiritual, and communal awakening.

Keep practicing!

Ian & Jenny O’Laughlin,  Thrive Hot Yoga Founders

Ian & Jenny O’Laughlin,
Thrive Hot Yoga Founders