Please let us know how your yoga practice has changed your life.

Email us your own testimonial at mysticfitness@gmail.com.

We would love to hear your unique story, and we may put it on our website to help inspire others.



Maryanne O’Hara

I have worked out regularly for years, and play tennis, but I was terribly inflexible and began getting injured. Two years ago, I spent months in physical therapy for a debilitating low back injury. Once through the crisis, I started stretching every day. It did help, but I still had to be careful not to put my back “out.” I knew in my heart that yoga would help, but the couple of classes I took at my gym were too boisterous, with pounding treadmills and loud radios just outside the room. I longed for a real yoga experience, but knew that Mystic was essentially the only game in town and I had NO desire to do anything in a hot room. 

Then last fall, I injured my shoulder. Scar tissue developed to the point where the arm could hardly move. Five months of physical therapy didn’t accomplish much, and my doctor at Mass General scheduled me for shoulder surgery in June.

The more I read about this very aggressive surgery, the more wary I became. I decided to cancel it and explore other options first. My acupuncturist started performing “Gua Sha” on me. Gua Sha is an old Chinese technique where the practitioner scrapes at the area of stagnant blood and scar tissue from the outside. Afterward, you look like you’ve been beat up, or in a car wreck, but it’s very effective. My range of movement started to slowly improve. 

Then in July, I was at a spa in Vermont. I had a Thai Massage because I heard it was good for injuries. The massage therapist happened to also be a Bikram teacher. At one point, she helped me into “bow pose.” I could barely hold on with the bad arm, but I could feel it giving me a shoulder stretch like I hadn’t felt in a long time. She urged me to practice yoga when I got home. I protested that there was only one convenient place to take it but that I could never do hot yoga. Try it twice, she said.  “You will get past the heat and find that you like it. I promise.”

I checked the Mystic website and saw that they now offered a “Hatha” class. Hatha wasn’t “hot.” Great, I thought. I went. The studio, which I had visited only once before to check out a Pilates class, had changed. The rug was gone, replaced by lovely bamboo flooring. The room was clean and quiet and dim, completely conducive to focusing and enjoying the practice.

Later that week, I tried Bikram. I panicked when I walked into the room, sure I would suffocate. But once I started, the heat was bearable. 

Within two weeks, I felt hooked on yoga practiced the way it’s practiced at Mystic. I was leaving for a two-week vacation abroad and was almost reluctant to leave, to lose what I had gained, but I downloaded some yogajournal.com podcasts and managed to find a few classes as I traveled.

When I returned, I froze my gym membership for September so that I could practice as much yoga as possible, just to see how my body would feel.  It’s the end of the month now, and my shoulder is so much improved, I cannot believe it. I can reach behind my back now. I can raise my arm overhead. I am so grateful I didn’t have that surgery!

My back has been benefiting too, and I’ve gone to the chiropractor only to make sure I’m “still okay,” not because I’m “out.”  Also, my body is changing; my clothes are starting to fall off.

Mainly, I love the sanctuary that is the space at Mystic. Respectful, quiet. Each instructor brings something unique and wonderful to the table. Thank you !

Kathy Lynch

Four years ago, a good friend suggested I try yoga to help ease my knee pain.   I was 38 years old and hadn’t worked out in years.   I had my doubts, but after two doctors, several medications, and 14 physical therapy visits, I was willing to try.   After six short months of Bikram Yoga, my knee pain was gone -absolutely completely gone!!!

OK, I was hooked!

With three kids, a fulltime job, hockey, soccer, softball, lacrosse, and housework, I didn’t have too much me- time.  So, I took the plunge and signed up for a full year membership as a commitment to myself.  It worked.  Even during the busiest times, I get myself to Yoga at least once a week. Everyone who knows me – knows my yoga.  In fact, I was speaking at a conference last fall and was introduced with my Bikram Yoga as part of my description.

Mid way through my second year, I went for my annual physical (same doctor I've had for 12 years) and he noticed that I had grown an inch.  He measured me 4 times, before he'd write it down.  When I told him about the yoga he wasn't surprised and agreed that the stretching does wonders for your back.

Yoga has become such a part of my life that I even incorporate it into my business travel as well and have found studios in Atlanta, Phoenix, Texas, London, California, NY, and Chicago.  On more than one occasion, I’ve found myself in “Where do you usually practice?  conversations that have led to, “Do you know -----?  I went to training with them.”    It’s a blast.

However, it was until this past year that I truly took “Yoga off my mat” and into my life.   Last January, intrigued by the Transformation Program offered at Mystic Fitness, I signed up.   While I knew that generally I was in pretty in good shape, I still hadn’t been able to shed about 10 pounds.   The program was very well done – and I particularly enjoyed the weekly meetings in which we learned the basics of meditation, and breathing.  Breathing – Prana – Patience would all very soon become critical in my life.

In March of 2007, I was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer – within 4 days had major surgery to remove a 10 pound mass from my pelvis.    It was perhaps the scariest experience in my life.   I can’t say I planned it . . . I can’t say I even did it on purpose – but my yoga breathing is what got me through.  Sitting in the pre-op room waiting to go in for surgery, I found myself alone and on the brink of panic.  I was terrified.   I guess it was almost like “the muscle memory” our teachers tell us about.  I sat up, crossed my legs, closed my eyes and focused on my breathing.   “Just breath,” I could hear the teachers say, “Sometimes it’s all you can do.”

Miraculously, I survived the surgery and beat the cancer – but I had a long recovery ahead of me.   Abby (one of the studio’s teachers) reached out to me, and told me that when I was ready, she would help me find my way back to yoga.   Eight weeks after the surgery, I was ready – but my body wasn’t.  I couldn’t bend, or twist, or stretch – and abdominals – what abdominals?   They were completely gone.  Patiently she taught me to modify my postures.  And thanks to the kindness and support of other teachers like Mimi, Kathy, Tal, and many others, I picked up on my practice.

Now, in March 2008, I proudly admit, I am a yoga addict.  Mentally, physically, spiritually it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself – and for my family! 

Mitch Shifrin

My name is Mitch Shifrin I am a 51 year-old male and this is the first time I have ever written a testimonial.  So yes writing this takes me out of my comfort zone but that is so appropriate considering that Yoga was also completely out of my comfort zone just four short months ago.

I grew up with what I consider the conventional "male exercise ideal" which consisted mostly of weight lifting and some running.  That routine seemed to be working very well for me until I entered my forties, then the tried and true started to show some cracks.  Probably the biggest crack was a torn thigh muscle incurred while skiing - ouch!  This injury was followed by others including putting out my back.  So over time, I started to spend more time on the sidelines recovering from injuries rather than exercising.  Actually I did not really miss the exercising so much as all the other activities it enables such as hiking, skiing, roller-blading, etc…  Wow! So far this does not sound like much of a testimonial, so much as a list of my physical ailments and complaints (hey I didn’t mention my Kidney stones!).  Don’t worry-- I am getting to the Yoga-- but, hey getting to the Yoga was a journey, as I am sure it is for many.

A couple of years ago I was on my way to ski with my favorite-first-cousin-ski-partner (FFCSP) Peter.  I was thinking I may need to get a new FFCSP because Peter had recently had dramatic knee surgery to put in a cadaver tendon – double YUK!  To my surprise, not only was FFCSP Peter able to ski, he was beating me down the hill and skiing like he was 13!  I went from feeling sorry for him to hoping he would fall (sorry – kidding - my competitive nature showing through?).  When I caught up with FFCSP Peter at the bottom of the mountain I said, " Peter, you #$%^&@*@$*,  how is it possible that you are skiing like this with your knee and all?"  I hope you guessed what he said, otherwise you may think that I drifted off topic again – Bikram Yoga!  That’s right, Bikram Yoga!  Turns out my FFCSP Peter is a Bikram Yoga evangelist!  He told me all about it and although I could clearly see the results I was reluctant to try it because hey, it sounded gross - a bunch of smelly sweating people in a tight space – super gross.  Also I had this image of Yoga being mostly about ringingbells, reading poetry and well laying down (sorry) – could it really feel like exercise?

It took me another year and a half of nickel and dime injuries to cajole myself into looking into taking a class.  My FFCSP Peter told me there was a studio in Waltham but I live in Holliston and I was not interested in traveling too far to take Yoga.  After searching the internet I found Mystic Fitness and I have to tell you, I don’t think I could have been luckier.  I started by taking a Bikram class and I was immediately hooked.  It must be part masochism but I feel so good after pushing myself to the limit in class.  I have also expanded into taking power and hot classes and I think they all complement each other.  The teachers are calm, patient and nurturing, the studio is roomy with great lighting and surprisingly people don’t really smell bad.

So where’s the beef (or what am I getting out of Yoga or what may you get out of Yoga)?  I have only been doing Yoga for about four months so who knows what the future holds, but so far I have gotten both expected and unexpected results.  What Yoga made me realize was how messed-up my body was. Everything was tight and out of alignment. While some of my muscles were strong, others were pathetically weak - no wonder I was getting injured!  Yoga has helped my strength, balance and concentration.  On the unexpected side, the Yoga crowd is diverse, different, fun and interesting, so I think my western mind is opening up a tad.  

Now, as for that FFCSP Peter, well he is still beating me down the mountain but not by much.  Sometimes we even do a triangle stretch together between runs.  Yeah he does say “I told you so…”

Renee Barbary-Gaudet

Having a full time job and taking care of 2 very active sons did not leave me much, if any, time to take care of myself.  I never dreamt of exercising. Pizza, Chinese food, and McDonalds were my only ways of life.  At least, that was my excuse and I always stuck to it!

Over the years I have sadly watched my dress-size increase. A lot. I found comfort in the under-appreciated, simple things in life, like brownies, potato chips and Funny Bones, to name just a few.  Obviously this did not help my inflating dress size issue and mydeflating self-esteem. 

During what I fondly refer to as my “puffy years”, I can definitively say that I was depressed.  I was uncomfortable in my own body.  I  avoided being in pictures. My self-esteem was low.  I did not sleep well. Shopping for swimsuits was a horrible nightmare, to be avoided at all costs.  Needless to say, body image was a sad, yet significant issue.

Everyone tells you the solution to weight issues is diet and exercise.  Diet and exercise.  Two simple words that aren’t so simple to those of us who celebrate food and denounce exercise.  I tried a million different diets.  For me, fad diets, --and all diets for that matter-- were a joke.  They didn’t work.  I simply love to eat. So I decided to shift my focus to exercise.  I tried running, Curves, various classes and workout videos, all with little result.  The weight was not coming off and I wasn’t enjoying myself. Frustration just kept mounting, and with it, so did the pounds.

A friend of mine could not stop talking about yoga, how great it is, and finally, against my wishes, he dragged me to a class.  I walked into the hot room and immediately, I wanted to walk out. But the teacher had already locked the front door and I was too humiliated to ask whether I could leave.  So, I tried to hide in the back of the room and prayed for some type of power-outage. Or a flood. Or a hurricane. Or something, ANYTHING, to release me out of this suffocating, disgusting, sweaty, hot  room and back to the safety and comfort of my refrigerator.

I could barely touch my toes, how was I going to get into some of these poses?  With a sense of humor and utter determination, I somehow made it through that first class.  I honestly didn’t know what to think or feel.  My body was clearly in complete shock.  

The next morning after my first class, I was not sore, as I had anticipated. In fact, I actually felt pretty good! So I decided to give it another try. I drove back to the studio the next day, and walked into the torture chamber once again. I will never know what force was driving me back then. But there I was. And after that second class, I was hooked.

      That was 28 months ago. 

       Today, I take 3 – 4 yoga classes per week.   What is most important to me, --and what I cannot stress enough-- is how incredible the class makes me feel.

I sleep better.  
I have more energy. 
I have more self-confidence.  
I am calmer and less reactive. 
I walk around with my yoga-healing glow! (Thanks Joe)  
And yes, I have lost weight. 80 pounds, to be exact!

If the emotional and mental reasons do not say enough, the physical result clearly speaks for itself.  I have gone from a size 18/20 to a size 6.  I haven’t been a size 6 since I was in 8th grade.  I have lost 80 pounds!  Enough said.

I know first hand how difficult it is to break out of the cycle of not exercising and not eating healthy meals.  I know first-hand what it is like to feel self-conscious about your body.  I am living proof that change can happen. You can change yourself to be the person you want to be.

Yoga is an amazing practice.  It has helped me discover that living a healthy lifestyle is what I have looked for all along.  I feel better about myself both inside and out. Yoga at Mystic Fitness increases your metabolism while providing a calmer effect in your daily life. The teachers are incredibly supportive and encouraging.  They have truly made my transformation enjoyable. I have met so many wonderful people that share my love of this practice and they have become part of my yoga family. I encourage everyone to try yoga.  The benefits are attainable and the journey is amazing.  Just look at me – I’m happier, 80 pounds lighter. 

As far as I’m concerned, after camel, it’s a piece of cake!

Jenny Bristol

"How's it going at the pumpkin patch?", a friend recently texted me as I was on a pumpkin- and apple-picking field trip with 120 kindergartners.  "I'm practicing my ujjayi breathing!", I replied.  And I was.  What better place to take deep, slow, mindful breaths than when on a school bus surrounded by rambunctious five-year-olds?  That's one thing that I love so much about yoga – that I can take it everywhere with me.  If I'm in bed, having a hard time falling asleep, with thoughts racing, I can focus on my breath and quiet my mind.  If something difficult comes up during the day, instead of stewing in negativity, I can breathe in fresh, clean air and breathe out negative emotions.  And the most amazing thing is that it actually works.  And that's just the breath.  Multiple times every day I find myself in postures – the twists that feel so great after a morning workout, the double-downward-dog my son likes to practice together, the triple vinyasas I do on the floor when I'm bursting with energy, the headstand that's a work in progress.

Beyond comforting breath and postures, the yoga I take with me is inspiration.  Yoga reminds me that, in our world where we all want more and more of everything, sometimes a deep breath or a simple twist is enough.  And that waiting and stillness is just as productive as busyness.  Yoga helps me be at peace with the fact that, although we have wonderful memories of the past and hopes for the future, all we really have is the present moment.  Yoga teaches me that instead of being focused on myself, if I offer myself or my practice up to someone or something else, I can accomplish so much more.  Yoga is nourishment for my body and soul.

I'm thankful that I'm at a point in my life where nourishing myself is a priority.  I began my yoga practice at Mystic two years ago this fall, after reading about power yoga and visiting a couple of other local studios.  I enjoyed the classes, the good mix of people, the comfortable come-as-you-are environment, and the instructors who were kind and welcoming and actually remembered your name.  But for some reason, I stopped practicing.  I wasn't high on my own list of priorities at the time, with a then-three-year-old and very little time to myself.  A little over a year later, I was telling a friend about this power yoga thing, about how it was so much more than an intense workout, about the beauty in pulling through something that is so challenging for the feeling of accomplishment and peace at the end.  I had to ask myself, if I could speak so highly of yoga, why wasn't I practicing?  So I came back to Mystic, was instantly hooked again after my first night of yoga bliss, and have been practicing regularly for almost a year.  Yoga, and my own body and soul's nourishment, is now a high priority and I'm feeling very well-fed.

Dean Milite


I never gave yoga much thought before late October of 2007.  When I was younger (much younger), I was active in sports and considered myself to be in fairly good shape.  As I got older, my athletic enthusiasm diminished and my physical shape deteriorated accordingly.  When I passed the 45-year mark, I decided it was time to do something about it, so I joined a gym.  I quickly realized that my best gym days were far behind me…

Enter yoga.  At the urging of a friend, I decided to try a heated-room power yoga class, despite some misgivings.  90 minutes in a 90+ degree room-was she kidding?  My initial skepticism proved correct, at least initially; when I did my first practice, my primary concern was not the correctness of my postures, but rather trying not to be sick or pass out.  There was definitely something good going on, though, and I did not hesitate to return for another round.

Flash forward several weeks and a dozen classes later, and I was hooked.  I thoroughly enjoyed my hot yoga classes and I was engaged enough to go out and try different types of yoga in other studios.  The first thing I noticed was that my body was reacting quicker and better than I could have imagined.  My stomach was getting flatter, that ever-present roll around my middle was diminishing (a little, anyway), and my muscles were toning.  More interesting was the fact that yoga was sneaking up on me and affecting me in ways I hadn’t expected.  I was sleeping better.  I was eating healthier and paying more attention to what I was eating-and to what the food I was eating was doing to my body.  I was drinking less.  Most importantly, and again to my surprise, I became aware that yoga was having a significant impact on my mind.  I am a stereotypical “Type A” personality, something I have been aware of all my life and always intended to change, but never got around to doing so-I simply grew to accept it.  I never learned how to “go with the flow,” nothing ever “rolled off my back.”  Through yoga practice, I began to realize how important and helpful it is to focus on the moment, to forget all the things that usually race through my head and to just “be here now.”  I also discovered breathing.  Sure, I always knew how to breathe, but suddenly breathing took on a whole new meaning.  When something goes wrong and my blood pressure begins to rise, breathe.  When that crazy driver cuts me off, resist the urge to honk and flip the bird and breathe.  It was an epiphany: breathing to calm the mind.  Who knew?

Five months later I am still hooked on yoga and still enjoying my practice.  I don’t pretend to have any great yoga skills-much to my disappointment, for example, I still cannot levitate-nor do I have any profound yogic insight, but I know I am a healthier, happier person.  My family and friends wholeheartedly agree.  “Please keep practicing yoga,” they tell me.  In short, yoga has changed me in a positive way, and I envision yoga being a part of the rest of my life.

Debbie Moran

For me, yoga has played a significant role in a long journey toward healing and peace. I began my yoga practice about four years ago, after the breakup of a 17 year marriage. My life had spun completely out of control. I was feeling worthless and depressed; I was unable to sleep at night and would have difficulty motivating myself to go to work. I had no desire to eat anything or even take care of myself. I knew that my meager salary as a teacher’s assistant would make the split between my husband and myself financially difficult. At the urging of my friends I went to my doctor, who prescribed medications for sleep and anxiety. All of these made me feel out of control, strange, and unlike myself. All of my former passions, such as cooking, gardening, or quilting, could not ease my mind. Nothing seemed to fill the emptiness I felt.

The dramatic change in my life can be attributed to yoga. One day, I heard about a new studio in Framingham that was offering hot yoga classes called Bikram Yoga. I was unfamiliar with yoga, but I kept the idea of it in my mind. One night when I was all alone, I decided to check it out. From that night on, I have been hooked. I began to sleep better and my mood had become more stable. I was beginning to see that I was worthwhile and I began to love myself and my body again. I subsequently stopped taking the prescribed medications and I am proud to say that I am healthy and strong again. In addition to the benefits of exercise, stretching, and meditation, these classes have introduced me to some wonderful new friends. I am now involved in many different types of yoga classes, not just Bikram. I am currently enjoying the Power Vinyasa classes, hot yoga classes, and yoga flow classes at the Mystic Fitness Studio here in Framingham, Massachusetts. Being a single mother of five wonderful children, four boys and one girl, the cost of a membership became more than I could afford. Fortunately, my friends at the studio offered me a part time position in exchange for yoga. I have moved beyond the troubles of my broken marriage and have adopted a new healthy and happy lifestyle.

Neil Glickman

 I have been practicing at this studio since it first opened as a purely Bikram studio in November, 2003.   I usually attend 4 sessions a week.   I would not devote so much of my time to this if it had not profoundly changed my life for the better.   

I initially approached yoga mainly as a kind of exercise and that is still my main focus.  I am convinced yoga provides the most comprehensive physical work outs possible: addressing stretching, breathing, weight bearing, muscle toning, and aerobics.   Although it takes a little getting used to, the addition of the heat enhances the practice enormously.  I think it is easier to move muscles when they are hot.  The sweating feels great, and I think it is cleansing.   I don't get sick much and I think that's partly because of the regular drenching sweating I do there.   The most concrete benefit I've gotten from the yoga has been relief from years of back pain.   When I come regularly, I have very little pain.   When I don't come, it returns.   I haven't lost as much weight as I had hoped but neither have I gained as much weight as I think I would have without it.   As I get older (I'm 54), I believe this yoga is keeping me functional physically.  I can feel the difference between a 54 year old body and a 30 year old one, but the yoga seems to keep the worst demons at bay.  Regular practice along with some dietary changes have also helped relieve some intestinal problems that used to bother me a lot but now are minor.   Beyond the physical benefits, yoga has had a great benefit on my temperament.   I'm much more even tempered.   I handle stress better.   I'm a supervisor in a hospital, and I think the people I work with appreciate my yoga practice.

I've learned in recent years that the exercise part of yoga is just the surface.   The spiritual dimension is even richer.    Some of the staff  at Mystic have been offering insight into this spiritual dimension in their own ways but they don't push it on anyone who isn't interested.   They are all non-judgmental and respectful of where all the students are at.  This is especially so now that we've moved from a purely Bikram studio to one more ecletic of yoga styles.  I'm glad they've kept some Bikram classes, but I like the variety, both of classes and of teachers, and the opportunity to learn about yoga and spirituality.

Overall, I think this is a great place to practice with enlightened management and teachers and a great set of students.

Marlies Plaggenborg

I have been practicing yoga for 12 years, in various states of this country and in other countries as well. I've always been eager to explore different types of yoga, as well as visit yoga institutes, attend seminars and the like. But this testimonial is not about me, it has a more Mystic quality to it. My experience at Mystic fitness was initially 'I can't get enough of this stuff', then it turned to respect. The caliber of the instructors here is second to none, the menu of yoga offered has a wonderful balance and the personal interest of students and teachers is just plain fun. Many studios offer one type of practice, the addition of Power yoga here allows the instructors to interpret the practice in their own, often fun way. The studio is clean and the karma right. 

In closing, and before I get far too gushy, I would like to say how wonderful Jeff Osman's special class was on Sunday, Sept. 13, 2009.  He put together a fabulous 2-hour Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga Workshop, the proceeds of which went to the Africa Yoga project. I for one, would gladly attend such a session on a monthly basis; maybe supporting other charitable donations. The 2 hour session flew by and I felt energized for days! 

I hope to be a yogini for at least 40 more years and with Mystic's help that is very possible!!!