My experience with Ankylosing Spondylitis, essentially rheumatoid arthritis in the spine, has been profoundly improved by the Bikram Yoga practice. When I started attending classes at Forge Hot Yoga three years ago, my range of motion was terrible. I could not touch my toes or do many of the postures. I needed to rest often–which is both accepted and encouraged. At the time, back pain kept me from sleeping through the night, and I was rarely ever comfortable.
Thanks to the encouragement and guidance of my teachers, I sleep comfortably now. I have more energy and a better attitude. More specifically, I’ve lost thirty pounds, improved my range of motion and my posture (all are essential to managing my condition). I’ve even reduced my dependency on the NSAIDS prescribed to manage inflammation and pain more than fifteen years ago!
On the best days, it feels like there is more space between my bones. And sometimes, when I am doing well in class, I find myself altogether forgetting that I have arthritis. Yes, there are bad days, and for me, mornings can be especially difficult. I sometimes don’t enjoy how I feel during class, but I always love the way I feel when I leave: warm, peaceful, loose.
My patient and helpful teachers have impressed upon me that yoga is about showing up and doing what you can today, honoring where you are and making incremental improvements by doing whatever small part of the posture you can. This disposition makes this challenging class accessible to everyone.
I strongly recommend the practice to anyone suffering from arthritis. At the very least, you can start like me, lying on the floor warming your aching bones.
I worked in the consumer products industry where constant measurement of my daily activities was an ongoing and mandatory process. In applying this logic to my Bikram Yoga practice (three years this June 11th) I have come to the following conclusions that I directly attribute to yoga. I enjoy, though am not particularly skilled at both downhill skiing and golf. The standing series has strengthened my legs immeasurably allowing much more skiing and much less resting while skiing than I was able to do prior to my yoga practice. On top of that I generally feel fine the next day no longer requiring multiple days to recover from muscular soreness. As a golfer it is imperative to have flexibility to make a complete shoulder turn as well as spinal torque to hit the ball solidly and to have accuracy in your shots. I attribute my improvement in both distance and accuracy in my golf game to upper body flexibility and strength the comes from my yoga practice. These are in addition to the general well-being feelings that I also attribute to my practice. Bikram Yoga has made significant improvements in my physical well-being.
Dear Angela and instructors,
In November my doctor took a blood pressure reading of 179/119, she was prepared to hospitalize me right away. My wife Linda had purchased a 30 day trial membership and I told the doctor I would like to try this first and after 90 days we would see where my blood pressure was. She also suggested that I take medication and lose weight, as I was in a very dangerous situation. Again, I persuaded her to give me and Bikram Yoga a chance.
The first class I could only participate in about 30% of the postures, the second class I was sure that death by a heart attack would be kinder than what I was experiencing that class, but I was determined to at least do 20 classes, I did 27. I began to lose weight and inches while my joints hurt somewhat, I could feel that I was gaining in flexibility and stamina. The encouragement and patience that each and every instructor showed myself was so motivating that I was determined to be the best I could be in each class.
I went back to my doctor in early April and was a little apprehensive about the result, but I am happy to report that my blood pressure had dropped to 122/82, my weight had dropped 40 pounds and was told I am in good health. The doctor was surprised at the drop in the blood pressure without the aid of medication and asked me what I was doing or taking, I explained the only thing I was doing differently was lots of Bikram Yoga classes.
So, I wanted to take this time to thank each and every one of you instructors, you are all tough but inspirational, as well as a lot of fun. I look forward to many years of Bikram Yoga and a more healthy life.
This year I found myself in a place where I was facing several life transitions all at once. I needed to do something that would help to center me, emotionally and help me to become healthier physically. Bikram Yoga has done both things and much more. I first agreed to attend 14 days in a row, then I went on for a 30 days challenge. I completed that then I increased it to the 60 day and completed it. I gained so much self-confidence and have gained knowledge that I am strong and disciplined and can accomplish whatever I choose.