By Kristin Ryan
I started Bikram Yoga in 2006 and went for about 6 months. It put me in the best shape of my life and I did the Breast Cancer 3Day Walk without even getting a sore muscle. I started back on December 30th, 2009 after my orthopedic surgeon told me I needed a knee replacement. He supported yoga as a therapeutic exercise for my knee, but assured me I would still need a replacement soon. I chose BYPV because it was the closest yoga studio to my house and I been there in 2006.
I have always been an athlete. I was a competitive swimmer, volleyball and soccer player my whole high school and college life. That included a lot of running and weight training. In addition, I have always been an avid backpacker and hiker. After college, I continued my backpacking, hiking, biking and weight training. I have suffered from lower back and knee pain since HS. Prior to starting back to BY in 2009, I had become unable to hike or walk distance anymore and by "distance" I mean I could not walk my dogs around the block. I was doing tons of mountain biking, but always suffered severe swelling of my knee afterward. After the births of my children (18 years ago) I have been sick about 4 to 5 times a year with upper respiratory and sinus infections. I had pneumonia 3 years in a row 2007, 2008, and 2009 when I couldn't kick the upper respiratory and it dropped into my lungs.
In 2009, my Dr. told me that a knee replacement was inevitable. I had had two total reconstructions on my right knee at that point. I decided to start yoga at his recommendation to strengthen the muscles around my knee. BY was my choice because I liked the assurance of a total body workout. I worked hard for a little over two years and had my knee replacement May 24th, 2012. I had to laugh when the Physical Therapist came in to teach me how to "Lock My Knee" after surgery. Before she could explain it I pulled up my gown and said, "Like this?" She gasped and said that she had never had a patient do that before. I told her all Bikram Yogis can. I returned to BY classes 15 days after the surgery with the blessing from my Dr. and his assurance that I could not hurt the new knee....after all it is titanium. Long story short, BY helped me attain full extension and flexion in just 10 weeks. It was the quickest recovery that both my Dr. and PT had ever seen in a 50 year combined career. I know that was the yoga. Oh, in the hospital I was able to bring down two fevers in the middle of the night with breathing. I would just take "long deep inhales and longer slower exhales" while saying, "My breath cools my body." I thought it was cool that all these yoga words kept coming to me!!!
The biggest thing yoga has done for me is stopped me from getting sick. My last two upper respiratory infections were exactly one year apart. I am getting sick WAY LESS often and when I do get sick I heal much faster. In fact, I was through my last upper respiratory infection in six days. That stunned me. I always used to be sick for three weeks every time I had upper respiratory.
Secondly, it has significantly reduced my lower back pain and it prepared my knee for replacement in a way I never dreamed possible. The other benefits are not minor. It has truly made me a more patient mother and teacher. My mind is more open and I have become a better listener.
Two Quotes I try to think of every day as I teach children: "No one can do everything, but everyone can do something." — unknown
"Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid." — Albert Einstein
My advice to a new student is advice that I need to follow as well! I know that consistency and patience are the two keys to total transformation, however, I still struggle to stay consistent. I know those things are the most important part of curing myself and yet I still slip up because it is such a difficult class. I always feel worse after a long lay off.
So, my advice.... just try to come three days a week (at a minimum) for a year and you will be hooked/cured. Yes, I said "a year"...that is why you need the patience!