By Noa Glow
With a youthful exuberance and a permanent smile on her face (not to mention a palpable devotion to her practice), it’s hard to tell that Ellen underwent hip-replacement surgery just one short year ago. Find out how Bikram Yoga helped this spunky self-confessed heat-monger prepare for and recover from her operation.
Why did you need to have hip-replacement surgery?
Some people have this procedure done to relieve arthritis pain or fix severe physical joint damage. In my case, I was born with what they call a misaligned hip on one side. There’s a lot of pain associated with this condition – it generally shoots down the inside and the front of the leg and makes it extremely difficult to walk. In the time leading up to my surgery I could barely walk at all.
What did the surgery involve?
The operation takes about an hour-and-a-half to perform; it’s a pretty big deal. The surgeon goes in and replaces the hip joint with a prosthetic implant. These prosthetics are generally made from materials like steel or a type of acrylic, but because I have such a small frame my new hip is made of a fibre composite. The surgery itself, plus the recovery, is honestly the most painful thing I’ve gone through in my entire life.
How did Bikram Yoga help you prepare for the surgery?
I’ve been a yogi for a long time; other regulars may recognize me as the girl who practises by the steamer at Kits. Leading up to my operation, the pain was getting more and more unbearable. In order to have the best and quickest recovery possible, I knew I had to strengthen and stretch the muscles in my leg as much as possible in the period leading up to surgery. That’s exactly what I did with Bikram Yoga.
How quickly were you able to return to the hot room after surgery?
Just over three months after the operation I was doing Bikram Yoga again, lightly. I’m now practising four to five times a week, which is normal for me, though I still can’t do all the postures. The third part of Awkward Pose, for example, isn’t ideal for my condition at the moment, and I can do Toe Stand on one side but not the other. But the heat and the increasing flexibility is making my continued recovery that much better.
Has anything else help you get through this difficult time?
The steamer is my best friend, now more than ever! At the beginning, just after I’d returned to the hot room, I really couldn’t do many of the postures in the series, but I found that a little extra heat helped me open up that much more. So me and the steamer became really close! The other thing that helps, which is something I’ve always turned to during hard times, is keeping a positive attitude and a sense of humour. Having a hip replaced at a relatively young age isn’t ideal, but if you look closely you can find the light even in the darkest moments. For example, the little ball in my leg “dings” every time I go through airport security now. The guards and I always have a good laugh about that.