Meet Jessica Rask – Bikram Hot Yoga Midwest Founder
Jessica Rask grew up in St. Louis, Missouri as the oldest of seven children. She had a very active childhood encouraged by her athletic parents to become involved in a variety of sports including soccer, field hockey, volleyball, basketball, and softball. Jessica attended the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor where her interest in team sport never faltered but its priority in her life fell to the side as she balanced a full time job and a full time class load. Upon graduation from Michigan, Jessica moved to Chicago to begin working a business consulting job demanding 60-70 hours per week of her time.
The change in lifestyle and lack of participation in organized sport contributed to weight gain and genuine discomfort for Jessica at all times. Her weight had become a problem to the point where she was classified clinically obese and this only intensified long-time problems with chronic knee pain and did not help the developing RSI in her wrist from constant use of a computer. After realizing she was far from where she had ever expected to be in terms of overall health and fitness, Jessica decided to regain control of her life at the age of 23. She joined a gym and began exercising again
during her lunch hour and started running home from the office rather than taking the train. While the increase in activity was helping Jessica with losing weight, it was certainly not doing much for her painful knees and after tearing her hip flexor during a street race, Jessica was again forced to inactivity while undergoing physical therapy for that injury.
Jessica read a cover article in the Chicago Tribune’s Sunday Sports section in 2002 on Bikram Yoga and immediately decided this was something she wanted to try. The next day she took her first Bikram Yoga class hiding her 5’3″, 175 pound frame in the back corner of the room to try to make herself invisible to the rest. Jessica immediately jumped right in changing her schedule around to ensure she could attend class every day (or at least as often as possible). Soon after, Jessica was transferred to Amsterdam by her job, a city which did not at the time have a Bikram Yoga Studio.
Knowing the practice of yoga was completely changing her physical body and her confidence in herself, Jessica began home practice until Bikram Yoga Amsterdam opened its doors in October of 2003. Under the guidance of her two mentors and teachers, Therese Aartsen and Lydia Wright, Jessica began an every day practice of Bikram Yoga. Therese and Lydia were both students of world-renowned yoga teacher, Mary Jarvis, whom Jessica has been honored and priviliged to train with herself over the past couple of years.
Jessica has, since beginning to practice Bikram Yoga six years ago, taken control of her weight (losing an overall 40 pounds), eliminated her chronic knee and RSI pain, regained her self-confidence and esteem, and made great strides to change her life for the better through her yoga practice and through her decision to leave the corporate world in order to teach.
In opening Bikram Yoga Andersonville, Jessica hopes to share all of the joys the yoga has brought into her life with the surrounding community and looks forward to working directly with students of all ages, shapes, and sizes with any kind of physical, emotional, or other complaints.