Meilyana’s journey is truly incredible … from a horrific car crash that left her with metal pins in her arms and unable to walk to being virtually pain-free after just three months in the hot room. Find out how this mom of three managed to “get back to beyond normal” with Bikram Yoga!
What was your life like before Bikram Yoga?
Painful! In 1994 I was in a really bad car accident. I broke both femurs as well as my right arm, and fractured my pelvis. The crash left me in a wheelchair for a year. I had to go through three major surgeries to repair my pelvis and connect both broken femurs with metal pins and screws. Because the doctors had to cut through muscle during surgery, I was left with major scarring around my hip, thigh and knees; I felt stiff and lost a lot of mobility as a result. I experienced a lot of pain in both knees and my right arm. When I tried to walk or climb stairs, my knees felt sore and weak, and the metal pin in my arm produced a dull, pinching pain, plus occasional numbness in my fingers. I couldn’t get my right arm straight.
Then, in late 2008, I was in another car accident. We were hit from the side and, when I turned my head to check on my daughter in the back seat, I suffered whiplash resulting in a pinched nerve at C7. My upper neck and back were so stiff and sore, it was difficult to turn my head to the right or left and looking down created an sharp, shooting pain that extended from the back of my neck to my arms and fingers. I also experienced constant migraines.
When did you take your first Bikram Yoga class, and why?
I took my first class in 2009 at the old Cambie Studio. My kinesiologist at the injury rehab centre suggested it to me. But I was nervous and, actually, a bit scared because I didn’t know what to expect. And, considering how much pain I was in at the time, I worried it’d be unbearable. When I did stretching exercises with my therapist it was always really painful … plus, I couldn’t imagine staying in a hot room for 90 minutes when I didn’t even like being in the sauna! But despite being so nervous, I went and, almost immediately, realized there was nothing to worry about. The first breathing exercise calmed me down; my body started to accept the heat. I felt my stiff, sore muscles being warmed and stretched and, surprisingly, stretching in the hot room didn’t produce the pain I felt in therapy. After class I noticed a huge difference in how I felt – I was totally energized and my head and neck were already less stiff. It didn’t surprise me that I wanted to come back the very next day; I was hooked on Bikram Yoga from the start!
When did you start noticing a big improvement in how you felt?
It only took three months of practising Bikram Yoga three or four times a week to notice a huge difference. I stopped taking painkillers, my migraines disappeared and the pain in my neck and upper back was gone. The numbness in my forearms was reduced and I had greater mobility in my hip. Today, the pain from my injuries is barely there anymore; my knees feel stronger and I have most of my flexibility back. I sleep better, too.
Did you notice any other types of changes?
For the first time in my life, before and after the accidents, I felt like I had more than enough energy to get through each day – without needing an energy drink! My concentration’s improved and I feel healthier and more balanced thanks to Bikram Yoga. I also used to experience horrible PMS; now, it’s much more manageable.
What do you find most challenging about Bikram Yoga?
I currently practise three or four times a week, and the biggest challenge is wishing I could do more! But I’ve got young kids at home – six, two-and-a-half and nine months – so increasing the frequency of my practice isn’t really possible right now.
You look absolutely amazing for a mom of three! Did you practise while pregnant?
I didn’t know about Bikram Yoga during my first pregnancy, but I practised while I was pregnant with my second and third daughters. Comparing my first with my second and third pregnancies is really interesting. With my first I experienced a lot of swelling and leg and back pain; I also had the baby blues bad after giving birth. With my second and third pregnancies I did Bikram Yoga up to seven months and returned to class two months after giving birth. I didn’t experience any leg or back pain with either, my body didn’t swell and no baby blues! Plus, I got back down to my ideal body weight just four months after both were born, no dieting.
As a mom, how do you make time for yoga?
I go to 8:15 p.m. classes, after the kids have gone to bed. So I’m really grateful that Bikram Yoga Vancouver offers late-night classes! I hope my kids will eventually start practising, too; as soon as they turn nine I’ll let them try a class with me. With life these days getting busier and busier, I think starting young is a key to a lifelong practice.
Do you think Bikram Yoga always be a part of your life?
YES! Bikram Yoga and I cannot be separated now – it has become a basic need for me, food for my body and soul. I’m a much better person and a much better mom; Bikram Yoga has given me back my positive energy, my clear mind and my strong body. I’ve been able to improve both mentally and physically because I don’t live with pain anymore. And the time it takes to commit to a regular practice pays off in the end; it’s almost like I get extra time back doing Bikram Yoga in terms of having much more energy to be with and enjoy my daughters.