I have been practicing yoga on and off for a few years and initially tried Bikram because I wanted to fit in regular “stretching” into my fitness routine. The classes were tough, but I felt great after class and I was a happier and calmer person when I practiced. I came and went as my schedule allowed over the years, but nothing encouraged me to keep hitting the mat regularly like a life altering health scare. Here is my testimonial of how regular Bikram yoga practice improved the quality of my life. (OK, if I have to be honest, saved my life.)
As a healthy active person I never thought I’d ever have an issue with something most of us take for granted----BREATHING! Last fall I was diagnosed with asthma after not breathing clearly all summer and I needed pills and inhalers so I could function in my daily life. I wanted to do normal things like read books at bedtime to my kids, eat a meal or talk with friends without feeling like I was suffocating, and be able to get to sleep at night without having a panic attack that I couldn’t breathe properly. In order to survive each day, I had to take a nap in the afternoon, and I took walks.
During my journey to heal myself I discovered my breathing was the most clear after I exercised or after sleeping. Anytime I was overtired or pushed myself during a busy day, I seemed to suffer more. I had always been able to push myself and bounce back quickly-Not any more. Inhaled steroids worked to keep my breathing clear during the day, so I took my inhaler, walked in the morning in order to breathe all day, then I did martial arts classes or walked every night so I could breathe at bedtime. I was pretty happy that I could still be active and the steroids helped me, so I took them.
In those first few months, all day long, I was constantly monitoring myself to see if I could breathe properly……or not. I wondered if I would ever go one hour in my life without having to think about doing a breathing check. To add to the confusion there were multiple Dr.’s and drug side effects like anxiety, nausea, muscle tremors, blood sugar issues and mouth sores. I needed to fix what was wrong with me so I could leave this junk behind me and get on with my life.
By Nov. my energy had improved and I realized I had a few months before my Bikram class card expired. Not wanting to waste it, I contacted the studio to see about coming back. I was very worried about how I would manage in the humid environment, if I was already having breathing issues before I stepped into the studio. Initially, I e-mailed Lyndsay and she encouraged me right from the start. I was hopeful when she told me there was a successful history of Bikram yoga helping people with respiratory issues.
In the first few months Lyndsay and Morgan gave me specific advice to help open up my chest and back. They told me which postures to do to help increase my lung capacity and breathing. No doctors or therapist had been able to give me personalized instructions like this-logical information that I could simply trust, follow and notice improvement on. I felt that doctors were there to keep me alive, but be damned about the overall quality of my life. Doctors didn’t give me any options or just didn’t have the experience to help me permanently heal or be proactive about my condition.
When I first started back my lungs and underused chest, back and neck muscles simply hurt. I had breathed so shallowly for 5 months, I knew it would take some time for my body to adapt. I was always hopeful though, because I noticed I could breathe a little easier after each class.
After 2 months I really noticed my breathing becoming easier and I was feeling an improvement in my whole body. After 3 months of regular practice I went off my inhaler and have never needed it again. Continuing regular exercise, revamping my nutrition and practicing Bikram yoga at this studio have given me my healthy life back. I have the resiliency to bounce back from a busy week, or a night where I don’t sleep well. I realize I am a happy and more compassionate person because of this struggle. I’m motivated to give back and support others who are hurting.
I can’t say enough about the support Lyndsay, Morgan and all the staff provided. When I first went back I received e-mails, in-person checks, and questions answered EVERY time I was at the studio. I was literally coaxed back to health. The instructor’s compassion for others went above and beyond what I was expecting. Bikram Calgary South is a supportive environment where you feel encouraged and appreciated no matter what kind of day you are having or if you are sick or injured.
This yoga really works for me. Aside from helping me breathe normally again, there are other benefits I can count on; more balanced muscle strength, improved digestion, a sound sleep each night, increased joint mobility, decreased joint pain, motivation to make conscious nutrition choices, patience, and most importantly an overall feeling that I can calmly deal with anything that happens in my life. I’m so thrilled I can practice this yoga and I appreciate each day that I feel energized by the happy community and friends I see there.
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