Student Feature: Jean

Name: Jean

Occupation: Medical Social Worker

How long have you been practicing yoga? Almost 1.5 years

How often do you practice? Around 4 times a week, more if I’m fortunate

What changes have you noticed in your practice?My breathing, flexibility, endurance, stronger muscles, and most importantly, pain relief! I feel an almost immediate pain relief in my fingers, hands, wrists, feet, shoulders, back, and chest after class and throughout the day.

Do you have an injury of a health condition that yoga has relieved or healed? I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis a year and a half ago, which also caused a few other conditions: neuroma (nerve damage) in both feet, carpal tunnel syndrome, jaw pain, and costochondritis (inflammation of the chest walls which can cause difficulty in breathing). I also have sciatica and ankylosing spondylitis. If I have a pain level of maybe 5, after Bikram it can go as low as 2. I still experience pain, however, it’s more manageable and not limiting. If I go days in a row, the pain can feel like it is completely eliminated.

What daily activities has yoga made a difference? Essentially, my ability to function as someone who has no disabilities. At one point of my diagnosis, I had to use a walker, could barely drive, open doors, get out of my car, or put a key in a door. I used to walk with a limp into work due to knee and foot pain. 

Yoga has helped me reclaim my life back and I’m able to walk normally, at times, run, shower, put on clothes with more ease, carry my groceries (or carry anything for that matter!), and sleep without pain. My primary care physician wanted to take me off of work  for 3 months so I could recover and heal, as normal work stress also exacerbates anyone with rheumatoid arthritis. However, I knew Bikram could accomplish more than what the medical field may not be aware of.

In many ways, yoga also decreased my stress level at work and find I breathe through stresses that come my way. Yoga has paid off in such profound ways in almost all aspects of life: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. It makes you stronger than you could ever believe you hope to be.

My goal last year (when I was using a walker) was to be able to snowboard in a year… and that goal was actualized when I went home to Colorado for Christmas!

By the way, it helped clear up a lot of my skin as well. =)

Do you have a favorite posture (s)? The ones I struggle with/ are challenging: standing head to knee, triangle, toe stand, standing bow, and bow…  And those that make me feel strong: eagle, standing separate head to knee

Do you have a least favorite posture (s)? The ones I have to do modified poses. I wish my body could go there but I know I have to be careful

What is your most memorable experience in class? When I was able to put my hands beside me for toe stand… to a certain degree, it told me more muscle groups were able to support me but most importantly, it showed I was healing more in my left foot. I also felt encouraged that Kaiyan saw my struggles over the months and recognized my small victory that day. It actually meant so much more than she knew…

What has been your most difficult experience with your yoga practice? Not being able to go daily…

Additional comments that you would like to mention? I don’t know what I would do without yoga… it saves me every time I go and I’m eternally grateful for this practice. BYF holds a very special place in my heart not just for the healing benefits but the instructors.

I’m particularly grateful for Kaiyan, Jennifer C., Marce, and Francisco. They really have such good, kind hearts and want to see every individual thrive. They have helped me with modified poses and have seen me through the worst of times and the best of times. I’m constantly pleasantly surprised by their care and devotion… you know they really love what they do.

On another note, I use a lot of things I learn from classes in my own line of work. I’ve used specific phrases from instructors to help my patients through their most darkest hours. Over and over I realize yoga is a practice, a lifestyle that heals you and in return, heals others. Thank you Kaiyan and all the staff at BYF. I’m so grateful for you all!

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