Meet Alissa. She practices at Bikram Yoga Minneapolis.
MH: Nice to meet you Alissa! Ok, let's talk yoga. How did you hear about Bikram?
A: I heard about it through Barb, Martha William's sister (Martha is one of the studio owners). I had mentioned to Barb that I was having health issues, and she said the Bikram might be a good thing to try.
Do you remember what your first class was like?
My boyfriend came with me, and it was the first class for both of us. The class was traumatic. I managed to stay in the room for the duration, but I felt like I was going to hurl chunks the entire time. When I got home, I threw my clothes in the laundry and went to sleep for a long, long time.
You probably slept like a baby. So although it was traumatic for you, why did you come back?
Mostly for health reasons. Even though it was really difficult, I instinctively felt that it was going to (at some point) be an important part of my healing story.
I'm intrigued. Can you tell me more about this healing story? What sort of injuries are you working with?
I have a number of injuries. It's kind of a long story. But last summer, I was in a car crash. I broke my pelvis in three places and a couple ribs. I have some ongoing issues from that (soft tissue, nerve, muscle spasms etc.). Before that, I had a significant toxic exposure which caused some complicated health problems (respiratory, digestive, immune system, and liver issues). So, you could say I'm kind of a work in progress.
Wow, Alissa. This is all intense. I am so glad you found Bikram Yoga. By the way, can you tell me what it is that you like and dislike about the practice?
I like that it is working! Every day, I can notice some progress in my healing. In the beginning, I didn't like that the series was the same every time. But now, I love that part of it. It allows you to check in with yourself and get an honest assessment of just where you are on that particular day. Best of all, I love how you feel at the end of it. Like you've really accomplished something.
Yes, it is so simple (simple, not easy) and it does work! And as you've come to realize, even though the sequence is the same, the class never is. Every day your body is different. But overall, what is it that inspired you to do the 30 day challenge?
I'm at a place in my life right now where I'm very motivated to make some positive changes for my health. I've spent the last several years sort of struggling with issues (and figuring out what was working and what wasn't). And now, I just want to start confronting them head on. I'm tired of letting my life be dictated by health challenges. I'm ready for the next chapter in my story. I actually think I'm going to keep going past thirty days. I'm not sure how long. But I will post progress reports on my blog.
Right on! We did this interview back in January, and I just checked out your blog and it says you just finished your 60th class in a row! YAY! That's so awesome. As a beginner, that is PRECISELY what you want to do. Bikram often tells us: give me 2 months of your life and I will give you back a new life. Tell me a little about your favorite and least favorite postures.
This is always changing and evolving. In the beginning, it was camel pose. I think that dealing with any kind of chronic illness requires dealing with a certain amount of frustration at first. You don't even realize that you are carrying all this excess emotional baggage. At some point, you reaching a climax where your old life just doesn't work anymore. You really have to let go of everything in order to make room for the new. For me, this coincided with camel pose. At first, even thinking about the camel pose made me nauseous. After I got into it the first time, I literally started hyperventilating. My yoga instructor's response was, 'Whatever it is, just let it go.' And I did. I just started breathing. Six hours later, I had a massive emotional release. Just started crying uncontrollably for no reason. But looking back, that was the beginning of a completely new way of life. So your least favorite poses become your favorite. I hear this a lot in the locker room.
Oh, girl. It's all about the backbends. "All backbend heals the spine," Mary Jarvis (one of my dearest teachers is often fond of saying.) And we all need spine healing in some form or another. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing your story and inspiring us with your challenge. You rock!