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Redmond teacher escapes troubled past through Bikram yoga
His father used to beat him and tell him that he was stupid. When he was 4, his father put out cigarettes in his stomach. Today, at age 40, he can still see the marks.
Coming out of a seriously dysfunctional family, Nosh Hedgeman struggled to survive in his own home. Escaping to the street corners at age 14 seemed to be the only solution to avoid his father’s physical and emotional abuse. Surrounded by anger and ache in the early stage of his life, Hedgeman started using crack cocaine. He hoped it would stop his pain.
“By the time I was 13, 14, I didn’t have any self-esteem, I didn’t know what it was,” Hedgeman said.
Looking back, Hedgeman realizes how angry and depressed he was — the inevitable result of the circumstances of his early life.
“It all started as funny games,” he said. The next thing he knew he was heavily addicted to crack cocaine.
Up to age 28, Hedgeman spent a lot of time in juvenile hall, jail and state prison. His life was far from normal. But then something happened that changed his life. While serving time in prison in his home state of California, he received a gift. It was a book, “Bikram Yoga,” sent to him by Bikram himself, founder of this practice. It led to transformation.
Hedgeman started practicing Bikram yoga in prison. On Sept. 1, 2000 he was released on parole and became deeply involved with the practice. He went to study yoga in San Francisco, where, thanks to a previous employer, he was able to afford the classes. His ex-boss saw potential in him, Hedgeman said. He practiced twice a day, 11 classes a week, for 61 days. After becoming a certified yoga instructor, Hedgeman started teaching in San Francisco.
It was a “humbling work,” he said. He worked and lived in the studio where he taught. Hedgeman said he was “eating and breathing” yoga. Looking back, he said, “I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.”
Initially, during his practice Hedgeman felt like crying. He felt hurt inside him, and for a long time he couldn’t identify what he was experiencing. One day he realized that he was transitioning from the “old him” into the “new him”; he was finally open to seeing himself and loving himself, while also feeling all of the past pain and everything that he had been through. He was letting go of the anger and the addiction.
“I was taking out the poison,” he said.
When you start practicing yoga, you begin the self-realization process, he said. With yoga you start to see different images coming out of you, and you begin to love the person that you have become. He said he learned how to be tolerant, patient and “in a beautiful relationship with myself.”
“Judgment does not exist in the yoga culture,” he said, and added, “it’s a strong community.”
Hedgeman has been clean of drugs for 12 years, and he continues to be an active yoga practitioner and coach. Nowadays, you can find him teaching at the Bikram Yoga Redmond studio.
Yoga instructors from all corners of the world help, teach and support one another, Hedgeman said. This is why, before he even arrived to Seattle on Oct. 2, 2012, Hedgeman already had a job awaiting him. His previous boss, Lynn Whitlow, and manager of Bikram Yoga in Petaluma, Calif., contacted Jen Anderson, the owner of Bikram Yoga Redmond to let her know that Hedgeman was moving to the Seattle area. He was hired.
Anderson said: “I feel inspired by Nosh’s story.” He “is exactly what Bikram yoga is all about, it’s for anyone and everyone.”
She also added that her favorite kinds of teachers are the ones with a story; because of their own life experiences they are able to teach others about internal beauty, appreciation and joy better than anyone else. Sharing how one can overcome difficulties and reconstruct their own life, she added, is an incredibly valuable aspect of teaching.
Simon Zand, a nine-year yoga practitioner and student at Bikram Yoga Redmond, said Hedgeman motivates him. Zand has a tremendous amount of respect for Hedgeman, as an instructor and as a person. His achievements, dedication, strong practice and positive thinking encourages students and non-student.
“He is a very good man,” Zand added.
Hedgeman’s dream is to open a yoga studio himself where he can offer anyone and everyone the physical and mental help they need during their healing journey.
Visit Bikram Yoga Redmond at http://www.bikramyogaredmond.com/ or call (425) 883-0200
Simona Trakiyska is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory.