Since my transformation, during which I lost 135 pounds, fitness has become an important part of my life. So, as often as I can, I want to bring to you a bit of the motivation that drove me to change my habits.
My friend Heather McCann has started Valley Sweat Life, which is a resource for fitness information in the Central Valley. With her blessing, I post on FresYes.com some of her amazing stories and explorations of our fitness and health community. I encourage you to check out Heather’s site and follow Valley Sweat Life on Facebook and Instagram!
[The following was posted on Valley Sweat Life on May 24, 2018 and has been edited for clarity and formatting.]
Behind the Scenes: Old Town Yoga with Desiree Heckman
By Valley Sweat Life
Desiree Heckman is a yoga teacher and the owner of Old Town Yoga in Clovis. She graduated from Fresno State with a B.S. in Psychology and a M.S. in Counseling. When she is not practicing yoga, you can find her enjoying time with her husband and two young children.
Tell us a little about yourself, your business, how you sweat, and what you do when you’re not sweating.
I am a wife and mama to two sweet kiddos and together our family owns and operates Old Town Yoga. I am originally from Arizona but moved to Fresno with my family when I was 17. I attended Fresno State right after high school and earned my B.A. in Psychology and my M.S. in Counseling. It was there that I met my husband and it was really the launchpad for the life we’ve created together. Now, I cannot imagine calling anywhere else home.
The main way I sweat is through yoga, although I have been exploring acro yoga and climbing lately, as well. Outside of that, I love spending time with my family. One of our favorite things to do is take a bike ride to go eat lunch together.
How did you get started in yoga and what inspired you to open OTY? How has it evolved?
It is a long story because so much happened to get me here today, but it all happened in a very short period of time. I wrote about my journey in more detail on the Old Town Yoga blog, so if you want the entire story, check it out. If you want the short version, read on.
I discovered yoga through Tone It Up (an online exercise program) in early 2014. I was nearly one year postpartum and I wanted to get back into shape. None of the other workouts in the program spoke to me like yoga did. I tiptoed my way deeper in the practice and continued to fall in love with it. I was unable to attend any of the local studios regularly because of time and money. I was a full-time stay-at-home mom and we were living on one income.
I cultivated my home practice until I became pregnant with my second. I was unable to practice yoga for most of my second pregnancy because of a pregnancy-related injury, and it made that pregnancy more challenging than I thought I could bear. At 38 weeks I decided I wanted to pursue a yoga teacher training so I could dive deeper into the physical practice after being on such a long break. I had yet to discover the multi-dimensional quality of a yoga practice and did not know how to access the benefits I was getting from the physical practice when I was off of my mat.
I found a teacher training that I knew I wanted to take, signed up immediately, and regretted it for the following three months until it started because I was so SCARED. My training was a 10-month process that challenged and shaped me into a version of myself I never expected to be. The process was so transformative I knew I had to bring that type of yoga experience to Clovis. I was still scared out of my mind, but I knew if I didn’t do it I would regret it for the rest of my life.
What changes have you made personally to excel in this?
Attending the teacher training was a big decision, but I truly believe it is the daily small decisions done repetitively that effect the most long-term change. I wake up early 5-6 days a week, and by early I mean 5:15 a.m. I make time for my yoga practice and to continue my education constantly. The amazing thing about this internet age is the access we have to experts all over the world. I am completing a training right now with the top two meditation teachers in the world and if it weren’t for the internet, there is no way I would have been able to do it.
How do you balance it with the rest of your life?
It’s a moving target. So much has drastically changed for my family in the last 18 months that the balance is often very difficult. Pinpointing what are my three top priorities in a given week helps me stay focused on the big picture instead of drowning in the details of everything. When I feel overwhelmed by it all I try to think about how I would shape my life to look like if I had a terminal illness and just a few months to live. That brings things back into perspective very quickly.
What is your healthy living philosophy?
Moderation. EVERYTHING in moderation.
What makes Old Town Yoga unique?
Hands down, the community. The warmth and love that our teacher and students show to each other and to new students is irresistible.
The number one correlating factor to happiness is having a sense of belonging. That surpassed education, location, income, religion, and a number of other tested factors. Our world has become very disconnected from human to human interactions and having a place to feel that you are part of is a priceless gift. Our instructors are highly skilled, but their greatest strength is their ability to shower our students with love and connection.
What’s next for you personally? What’s next for OTY?
A lot of personal self-work. I have been exploring my meditation practice more deeply, and learning to befriend yourself is some tough sh*t. I want to deepen that element of my yoga practice and continue spreading yoga in its entirety to as many people as possible.
I am co-teaching the next 200-hour teacher training that we are offering early next year, and I will be participating as a student in an advanced teacher training that we are starting this August. Continuous education is the name of the game for me. I find when I am doing that, the direction of my path continues to appear and guide me where I am supposed to go.
What advice do you have for someone wanting to come in to Old Town Yoga for the first time?
Don’t overthink it! If there is something in you that has wanted to try yoga, just do it. Find a class, commit to it and just get yourself to walk through our doors. Within five minutes you will know you made the right decision. I promise.
I love where I live, and I also love what I do. I'm lucky to be able to work in a profession in which I get to build relationships; one that has me meeting new people each and every day and helping them to build new lives in my beloved city. I'm lucky enough to work in a profession in which I can marry cutting-edge technologies and marketing techniques to good, old-fashioned, nose-to-the-grindstone work. I am lucky enough to work in a profession that allows me to work as an advocate for my clients; to use every tool at my disposal to get a job done well for them, and with as little stress and expense as possible.
I love my city. I love my job. One inspires my excellence for the other.
Fresno? I say FresYES