Bikram Yoga for Injuries: Alice B.

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Girl taking own picture with cell phone

After two car accidents and a hereditary disease, Bikram Yoga marked 30-year-old Alice’s first return to heavy physical exercise in years. Find out what motivated this former martial artist to do a 30-Day Yoga Challenge from the top – and discover the amazing physical improvements that occurred!

What led you to give Bikram Yoga a try?

I’m a bit of a stubborn girl. I’m not exactly one to listen to anyone who tells me not to do something – including my own body. This led me to martial arts. I studied Wing Chun-style Kung Fu for a long time, all because someone told me I punched like a girl …

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Unfortunately, I had to leave martial arts in 2007 after being in an auto accident. Several months later, I was hit by a car. My stubborn nature was not happy with walking away from Kung Fu but I knew that pushing it would only make things worse. In the spring of 2008, I started looking into new ways to work out to keep my fitness up and help my body mend. My first encounter with yoga was brief, as my flexibility was limited and it did not seem to help. At the same time, I started experiencing increased fatigue and pain that I had not felt before. Doctors told me a hereditary disease was resulting in muscle-tissue degeneration, which was sapping me of most of my strength. It was a dark time for me, and I experienced intense depression. I put on a lot of weight due to the emotional stress, and found myself at 198 pounds.

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It was not until spring of 2011 that I shook myself out of that funk. I decided I was done with being overweight and feeling ugly. I promised myself I was going to start living a healthier life, in part by making exercise a bigger priority and getting my body back to where it had been just a few years prior. Thanks to a bicycle and vegan/gluten-free eating, I lowered my weight back below 160 pounds over two years.

But there were still problems – most notably, my body shape. With an additional 20 to 30 pounds still present, I continue to fight with myself not to judge myself as “ugly.” Also, my strength was nearly non-existent and I was still getting shooting pains whenever I’d try to push weight onto an individual leg. A Bikram Yoga instructor friend of mine peaked my interest: I wondered whether the heat could really make yoga that much better of an experience? I decided to give it a try. And, after being told that it was not worth the effort to go just once or even once every couple of weeks, the timing and motivation was right for me to commit to a one-month challenge. My first class was on March 2, 2013, at the Cambie Studio. Gaby was teaching.

How did you that very first class make you feel?

Let me start by saying that I am a redhead, freckles and all. I’ve spent most of my life hiding from sunlight, as it’s next to impossible for me to spend a summer’s day outdoors without getting burnt. In other words, saying that I’m not at my best in the heat is an understatement. As such, my first Bikram Yoga class was beyond intense. I was sweating to near death barely into the first set of Pranayama Breathing. I crashed so hard following class. The drain on my body was so intense, I felt sick. Thankfully, my roommate hooked me up with a Vega Sport, which started to restore my electrolytes and rehydrate my body.

What brought you back for more?

If I wasn’t as stubborn as I am, I might have never come to another class. But I was there the very next day. The plan was to challenge myself to 30 days of Bikram Yoga. Unfortunately, a houseguest brought the flu my way, and I missed a few days somewhere in the mix.

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What benefits have you received from Bikram Yoga?

Incredibly, I have seen tiny improvements to my body that I did not believe possible. After the first two weeks of Bikram Yoga, I started to feel an increase in my overall energy, and my metabolism has been improving. Physically, I’m starting to feel some strength return to my legs. I am no longer feeling as much intense pain while balancing on a single leg. The Standing Series is still very difficult for me, particularly because I am not able to lock my legs long enough to complete a pose. But, in contrast to the first classes, where I experienced intense pain, things are getting better – in this short time, I have started to be able to hold my body weight on one leg for more than a split moment! Before this month, that action would cause incredible pain shooting down to my foot. Now I just need to start feeling confident that one day in the not-so-distant future I will be able to complete poses without losing my balance or experiencing any pain! Emotionally, I have felt extremely positive. I’ve even noticed my libido has been more lively lately, and my ability to take the heat has grown by leaps and bounds. I am able to leave class without having to immediately rehydrate, down electrolytes and eat something. When I leave class now, I feel energetic.

What’s made your experience at Bikram Yoga Vancouver positive?

I personally feel so motivated surrounded by classmates in such amazing shape! I also want to thank everyone at the Cambie Studio, from those manning the desk (always full of laughter and life) to the instructors, especially Christine and Michelle, who have led most of my classes.

What advice would you give others who are thinking about trying Bikram Yoga?

The key is determination. I admit that, following an accident or a health condition that robs you of your body, it is easy to give in. I did. For three years, I gave up. You have to know that you can overcome anything if you are willing to push yourself. This applies to Bikram Yoga, too. You cannot let yourself give up. If you can do that, you will start to see the benefits.

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