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Ten years ago (tomorrow) I finished three years of chemotherapy, ten years ago I was in a wheelchair. I've had knee surgeries, elbow surgeries, bilateral hip replacements and years of gruesome physical therapy to undo the damage that chemo had on my joints and bones. I had a scan done in 2006 showing my skeleton as frail and translucent, I had the bone density of someone in their seventies at the age of 18. I was diagnosed with advanced osteoporosis and osteonecrosis in which every joint in my body either deteriorated at a rapid rate or actually collapsed on me. My tendons and ligaments were so jagged that they cut my nerves causing damage, I had dead pieces of bone floating around each joint letting off a gas that was extremely painful.
At the age of 15 I was told I would never enjoy the active lifestyle I had led before my diagnosis, and I've never felt so helpless in my life. I spent six years down on the fact that if this is how my body felt at such a young age, what was it going to be like into my adulthood? I couldn't see my life past the age of fifty just for thinking of the sheer agony I would be in; what would my life be if I was so frail and sick? I spent six years of trying every drug I could find that might help, with horrible side effects and dependency, years of sleepless nights and crawling instead of walking up stairs.
I felt absolutely hopeless until I found acupuncture, and on my first day they suggested I start yoga as a low impact way of strengthening my muscles to support my joints. I worked across the street from a Bikram studio and figured it might be a good idea to try. My first class was horrible, I could hardly stay in the room, let alone attempt a third of the postures. Something told me to keep going back, even if only for the calming benefit of slowing my breathing. It took only a few months before I was able to move my elbows under my body in the floor series, or actually lift my leg for tree. I felt strong for the first time in years! I no longer fear getting older, my bone density has increased to my doctor's surprise, my heart is eons better than it should look after all my treatments, and I actually feel healthy (I've literally shocked my Oncologist with all of this). My sleep has improved, I haven't taken a pain killer in years and even my digestion has gotten better. I'm at the point of no return, when I don't come for a few weeks my asthma acts up, as does every other system in my body.
I don't need the shoulder or knee replacements that I was expected to have by the age of 25. Since starting Bikram and changing my lifestyle I've been able to hike, surf, backpack through Europe and do so many things I was told I would never have the chance to do. I don't know where my life might have wound up if the last four years I hadn't found this practice, but I can only imagine where it is going since every time I come I get stronger.
When I first learned of Bikram Yoga I thought it sounded extreme and crazy. Who would want to sit in a hot room and strike a pose and hold it for a minute? I have always been a cyclist and weight lifter and believed the only way to work your body was to really work and go faster and lift more. Those hard years have made me a regular at Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine Doctors.
Over the past two years I have struggled with Disc Degeneration in my spine. Particulary in my cervical and Lumbar areas. There is not a Disc in those two zones that is not bulging or herniated. My cervical disc problems include pressure on nerves which lead to pain, numbness, tingling, and loss of mobility in my arm and neck. Beyond these aches and pains the muscle weakness has lead to other injuries in my shoulder. I have been in therapy for a year and a half and have made progress but the Doctors say I will always struggle with these unless I want to undergo surgery, which they suggest as a last resort.
With all my old workouts and sports put on hold as I heal my wife suggested I start Bikram Yoga and see how that would help my spine and give me a general workout. Each class was hard. Holding a pose and locking your leg is much harder than it seemed. All of the postures though were taking me back to various physical therapy things and I realized this was a way to start healing all of my various injuries from the years.
Many days I can enter the studio in pain and unable to turn my head completely. After a class I can rotate my neck, the pain has decreased or is gone, and my arm no longer tingles! When I increased my practice to 3-4 days per week I felt a tremendous difference. With the frequency I felt NO Pain, NO tingling, and I could turn my head completely! My physical therapist asked what I was doing so I explained some of the postures and demonstrated, I was told those were things I should have been doing all along and to do 10 of them in the office before leaving.
I have done many workouts and many many sports to keep my body and mind healthy over the years. All have caused stress and irritated old injuries. My Cervical Disc issue caused me to find something that will heal and restore while working my mind and Body. Bikram Yoga Vorhees with their caring instructors, wonderful family of students, and welcoming community has given me a way to heal myself. So instead of me being a consumer of various medical tests, therapies, and pills, I am now a producer of my own healing and well being. Thanks Jess and Bikram Yoga Vorhees the "Old Man" as my students call me is back in action.
Lisa A Post
Feb 8, 2011 I slipped on black ice dislocating my right foot and breaking both bones in the ankle. 3 plates, 9 pins and 2 wires later I was fortunate to save the foot. I was informed that probably would never walk without a limp, wear high heels or participate in physical activities like I had previously. I did everything the physician and physical therapist instructed me to do for rehabilitation. After 6 months my insurance ran out and I was left to help myself. I am fortunate. My daughter introduced me to bikram yoga. My first experience was humiliating. I could barely do any of the standing postures and then going to the ground was torture. I kept attending and within 6 months I was back to wearing heels and walking tall without a limp. I have been able to do some limited jogging but that is still way beyond what I was expected to do.
A body needs the expression of movement to heal. If it were not for bikram yoga I would not be in such good condition along with the benefit of toning my body and overall health improvements. Blood pressure is back to normal, cholesterol is back to normal and I feel great. Thank you for all the support and encouragement. It is a journey and I will make it a good one!
Lisa A Post
Waking up in the recovery room after my fifth knee surgery at age 46 I knew something was wrong. This surgery was to be quite invasive with the goal of accomplishing some significant repair work. What should have taken many hours was done in under 45 minutes. When the surgeon came in he explained that my knee was too far gone to perform this work and all they could do was some light housekeeping. He then told me my next surgery would be a total knee replacement. The only relief I could get was a series of shots every 6 months to fool my knee into thinking there was some cartilage left.
I took the first series of injections 2+ years ago with the hope of getting some relief. After that first round of shots I discovered Bikram Yoga of Voorhees. As soon as I walked in the door I was welcomed and reassured that this was a beginners series and to “just do what I can do”. 90 minutes later I was quite I happy I survived and was hooked. After only a month my knee felt better than it had in many years, after 6 months there was no need to go for round two of the injections, and after two years I had completely forgotten why I had first tried Bikram Yoga and it is now just a part of my life.
Physically my body has never felt better, sports and activities I had given up have crept back into my life and more important than any of this is what I have gained mentally. There is a calmness and balance that I never expected or looked for but truly appreciate, and I now realize that is more important than any of the physical beneifts.
Why Bikram Voorhees? Every studio will tell you they have the “best” teachers and how wonderful they are, some are right, some not so much. As someone who travels I have had the opportunity to try different Bikram studios and other styles when Bikram was not available in the area. What sets Bikram Voorhees apart is the atmosphere created by the ownership and staff which filters down to the customers creating a sense of community, another benefit I was not looking for or expecting. From a smile hello, to moving their mat so someone could get a better view in the mirror, to welcoming and reassuring a newbie, the customers follow the lead of the staff to create a great sanctuary to lose and find yourself.