My journey with yoga started in my 20’s when I attempted to try Bikram Yoga. If you know anything about yoga, Bikram as described by the founder is a “torture chamber.” Metaphorically of course. That said, Bikram is one of the most intense “original” hot yoga styles out there. It is composed of 26 poses, done 60 & 30 seconds for 90 minutes. Oh and I can’t forget the heat 105 degree room, with 40% humidity to mimic the climate of India. Yea, doesn’t it sound like a lot of fun? It is a pretty intense practice. First time I went I was thinking “these people are insane.” I never thought I would go back. I hated it, then years later I found a friend who encouraged me to go back, because I had back pain. Needless to say, I did Bikram yoga off/on for many years, in my 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s, always going back when I was in pain. It helped every time. But, because it was so expensive I would only go until I felt better and stop.
Now fast forward to why I am really here sharing my story to the world. In August 2015 when I was 43, I had been sitting on the couch, had my right leg up and had my left leg bent. You know how we all lay on a couch, haha. Than all of a sudden my left leg fell open and I heard this horrible tear sound that appeared to start at my groin and went all the way up to my belly button. I freaked out for a few minutes, paused waiting for something else to happen, afraid to move. Finally a few minutes later, I said to myself you better see if you can move your leg. Thank goodness, I could. So, I was like “hmmm ok, must have been nothing.” Disregarding what I heard turned out to not be such a good idea.
Within a few months I started having issues walking, lifting my leg, bending it, it hurt to walk, sit down, lie down, you name it, I could not get the pain to go away. Finally I decide to go to my doctor, because I was in excruciating pain. They did an x-ray, told me I probably had bursitis, and arthritis in my hip. I’m like ok, “so what do I do?” She gave me pills for the pain, said lose weight, and hopefully it will go away. Great so she called me “fat.” haha. I kept emailing her saying nothing was working. Finally she sent me to a sport medicine doctor who basically told me the same thing, but added hip dysplasia to my diagnosis, because I have scoliosis. He told me continue what you are doing, gave me some exercises to do, and a new muscle relaxer. Great more pills I thought.
December 2015 after 6 months, of popping pills, doing what I could with the exercises, and drinking to forget about the pain I had enough. I told myself this is crap, I’m going back to Bikram yoga. I stopped all those pain meds, stopped drinking, and I forced myself to go to bikram anywhere from 4-5 x’s a week. People thought I was crazy. Within 3 months I improved. I was able to lift my leg, bend it, and walking got easier. Then I thought to myself this is bullshit, I want to know exactly what is wrong with my hip. Called my doctor and demanded an MRI, but it had to be done by the Sports Medicine doctor. I finally got my MRI and unfortunately that sound I heard on the couch 6 months prior, was something. The MRI came back saying I had a labrum tear. If you don’t know what that is you can read more about it here. https://www.hss.edu/condition-list_labral-tears-hip.asp
The Sport Medicine Doctor calls me up to tell me the results. I asked “ok, well so what’s the solution?” He told me a “Hip Replacement!” He said fixing the tear arthroscopically wouldn’t make the pain go away, because I have “hip dysplasia.” I was wait what, you are kidding me, I haven’t even been to Physical Therapy and your solution is straight to a “hip replacement?” I was pissed. Than his response was “oh you want to go to PT? Yea you can do that.” I wanted to scream. I said yes of course. In my head I was like “why would we go straight to surgery.” It just didn’t make any sense to me. He than told me not to lift any weights. Which at the time I was still in quite a bit of pain that I figured yoga was the most gentlest type of exercise I could do to improve my situation. I got off the phone with this idiot and I was in shock. What was I going to do?
In my head since it didn’t make sense, I ended up not even going to PT. I told myself yoga is going to fix me, because it already showed me that in 3 month it was. By the end of 2016 I finished my first year of Bikram yoga. I still felt that though I improved I needed something else. I thought maybe I should go see a chiropractor. That was also something else I did off/on for years. I ended up finding a chiropractor who was also a personal trainer. He ended up helping me tremendously. He was shocked that the Sport doctor suggested hip replacement and told me not to workout. He immediately told me I needed to strengthen my glutes and hamstrings. He prescribed all the exercises that I always didn’t like doing at the gym when I used to workout alot, like squats and lunges.
After I found the chiropractor I also decided to look at different yoga studios other than Bikram. I still wanted to do hot yoga, because it just feels great, but thought it was time to broaden my horizons in regards to seeing what else was out there. Going to a new yoga studio helped opened my eyes to how vast yoga is. There are endless possibilities to how to practice. I continued to improve with doing tissue work that was prescribed by my chiropractor, more specific exercises to strengthen those hips, glutes, I also started acupuncture for pain. That helped my pain alot too.
Then in 2017 I had been talking with a friend for months about traveling to Peru. She ended up finally telling me she didn’t want to go. Same day she told me she didn’t want to go anymore, I had been at my new yoga studio, class was ending, and the instructor announces “and this week is the last week to sign up for our Peru trip.” I was “holy hell, it is a sign and I am going to do this.” I immediately went to talk with her after class and in May I went to Peru with 3 wonderful Yoga Teachers, on one of my best yoga adventures yet. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, because the trip included a 3 days hike on the Salkantay Trek Trail that lead into Machu Picchu. I was excited and scared at the same time. Because I had no idea how my hip was going to do. I ended up telling myself this was a challenge to see how far I had gotten with healing my hip and back last year in a half.
I ended up only lasting 1 day. The elevation was brutal, my hip/back were not having it. We had been in Cusco for a week, which is at 10,990 feet, figured I would be acclimated enough, but I guess I wasn’t. We started in Mollepata, which was 9514 feet and our 1st camp was at Soraypama, which was 12834 feet. Some how some way, I made it to first basecamp. I have no idea how I made it to camp that first day, because my back went out. Picture below. We had to carry our packs that were about 25 pounds. I know it doesn’t seem like a lot, but for my body it was, plus the elevation didn’t help. I had all the yoga teachers trying to help me with the pain. When we got to camp of course I was the last one to make it. It was freezing, I felt nauseated, they tried to feed me, but I wasn’t hungry. I was so dehydrated, but I couldn’t get enough fluids in me. That night I threw up, barely slept, and at 5 am when they woke us up to continue our 2nd day on the hike, I had to bow out. I was still in a position that they could drive me back to Cusco. If I would have gotten stuck on the 2nd day up in the mountains, I don’t know what would have happened. One of our guides had to help me back, I couldn’t even carry my pack anymore.
Once I got back to Cusco I got to stay in a hotel and rest. Which ended up being amazing, I got to actually take the train into Agua Caliente, which is were Machu Picchu is and meet up with my group. It was so much better taking the train. haha. Met up with my group, we stayed at a nice hostel, and next day we went into Machu Picchu. I had also signed up for the hike up Waynu Picchu which is located in Machu Picchu. That was only 9000 feet and I was able to do that with ease. Probably only, because I had been to over 12000 feet already, so 9000 was easy, haha. Also, the Gods were watching over me that day. I was still the last one up, but for me it was an amazing success to have been able to climb that.
When I came back from that trip, I realized I still had work to do on my hip/back. I continued my routine of deep tissue, chiropractic, acupuncture, yoga, and personal training sessions with my chiropractor. In 2018 I saw an advertisement for a Yoga Festival and also saw a scholarship advertisement for yoga teacher trainer. I thought to myself “hmmm, why not, what would it hurt.” So, I applied for the scholarship and didn’t think I was going to get it, but I did. It was actually the best miracle that could have ever happened to me.
Now its 2021 and I have been a Yoga Teacher for a little over 3 years. I actually work in mental health and teach yoga to our inpatient unit. I enjoy it so much and I love teaching people about it.
Years ago, I thought about becoming a yoga teacher, but I never really looked into it. I think the universe thought I really needed to learn more about yoga and since the universe had just given me a scholarship, I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity. I just really wanted to know more about why “yoga” helped me so much and taking yoga teacher training was going to show me.
Yoga is a way of life, not just an “exercise” to do to get in shape. It is so much more than that. Anyone who knows me always laughs at me, because when someone tells me they have pain or any type of issue, I always ask if they have tried yoga or meditation. I’m no doctor, but if I was, my prescription to everyone would be to incorporate Yoga and Meditation into their daily lives. I say this with every fiber of my being, because of what it has given me and how it has helped me heal my body, mind, soul, and spirit. I just want to share my experiences with whoever feels that they have come to the end of their rope when it comes to pain. When I say pain, I don’t just mean physical pain either.
Let me tell you, pain is here to make you stronger my friends. Pills mask your pain, they don’t try to get to the root of your issues. And the only way to get to the root of your issues is to go within and find out who you really are. The way you do that is to find something that can help you learn to focus and harness your energies, like yoga and meditation. I feel that everyone should practice these modalities, if they want to be a better version of themselves and find answers to all your questions. Most people search everywhere, but themselves. They are all within you, you just have to dig deep.
This is my journey in a nutshell. The reason my first post is so long, is because I wanted to share my story that pain can be overcome and that yoga isn’t just an exercise to take lightly. It has changed my life and I want to share my knowledge and experiences with people who feel they can’t do yoga.
There is not one excuse I have not heard from my patients. “I can’t do yoga, I’m not flexible, I can’t touch my toes, I’ve tried it, I didn’t like it, my back hurts, it’s to hard,” You name it I have heard it and to everyone who has an excuse like this I always say , “but, have you tried my yoga?”
There is so much more, but I will reserve those for later posts. I hope I have sparked some interest in some of you. My goal is to create some mini lessons for people who want to start yoga and have no idea were to start. Or feel like they won’t be able to do it. Trust me you can. You just have to believe it and start somewhere. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions. I look forward to working with all of you. Namaste
For my 45’s and older females I will also be talking about my experiences with perimenopause and menopause. But, I will save those for later posts.