As I stood at the back of the room before beginning my first Bikram Yoga class I had a lot of thoughts running through my mind. Most of them were regarding pain. My whole body was riddled with Rheumatoid Arthritis, a chronic disease that doctors agree has no known cause and no known cure. It is a chronic state in which the body is attacking it's own joints, in a state of innocent confusion. My prognosis was poor and I was told by the best medical doctors that I would spend the rest of my life on toxic drugs that would prevent me from having children.
At the back of the Bikram Yoga class I was standing on one leg. My left knee could not support any weight due to the enormous swelling and inflammation, and so the knee was bent forward the way that footballers get carried off fields when they tear a cruciate ligament. The balls of both of my feet hurt, my fingers ached and every exhale breath caused me pain in the chest bone. As we begun Pranayama breathing, I noticed how my left elbow would barely raise up to my shoulders due to the chronic swelling which was dramatically restricting my range of movement. By that day I had already spent thousands of dollars on acupuncture, massage therapy and natural supplements to try and reduce my pain, but my condition was worsening.
After the breathing process I struggled through the standing series on my one good leg. Then I battled my way through the floor series, feeling stiff, swollen and sore everywhere. At one point, somewhere in the middle of my floor-series hell, the teacher walked past me and said 'Clint, you need to come every day'. I managed an exhausted laugh and thought he was joking. Go through this torture? Every single day?! You've got to be kidding! But he had planted a seed.
When I woke up the next day after my first class I noticed something remarkable. My morning stiffness in my joints was dramatically less and I was able to get out of bed with more ease. The improvement after that single class was so obvious that I thought I would go back again a few days later. Once again, I noticed the dramatic improvement from my second class which confirmed to me that this particular yoga style was indeed life-changing. Thus, I decided to go to Bikram Yoga 2- 3 times a week and keep that up as long as I continued to see improvements.
Now, 4 years later I am off all medication. My feet, ankles, chest, wrists, fingers, knees are all pain free and my blood results are now back to normal. Best of all, I have been able to run up to 4km on my left knee that was previously facing replacement surgery. I can now also work out at the gym and I have put 7kg of muscle back on my body that had become stick thin. Not only that, I am now a teacher of natural healing methods, helping and inspiring others around the world to dramatically improve their Rheumatoid Arthritis, and in some cases, get rid of it altogether. (For more information see www.rheumatoidarthritisprogram.com)
Why does Bikram Yoga work so incredibly well for Rheumatoid Arthritis? My personal journey has led me to believe it is a unique combination of:
- Strengthening tendons around joints, thus protecting them from soft-tissue inflammation
- Increasing blood flow to inactive and inflamed areas, which reduces pain
- Effective dislodgement of problematic 'Circulating Immune Complexes' from the joints
- Internal massage of the digestive system to enhance the functioning of the digestive process (I believe a disfunctional digestive process is the underlying cause of RA)
- Realignment of limbs that tend to disfigure from the autoimmune attack
Thus, I found Bikram Yoga to be the single best exercise for reversing RA pain, stiffness and damage. To achieve results like mine, all exercise should be done with the appropriate diet. I believe that a sufferer of Rheumatoid Arthritis can do no better than to adopt a unique, plant-based diet program like my Paddison Program for Rheumatoid Arthritis and attend Bikram Yoga classes on a regular basis. In fact, I believe that if you have Rheumatoid Arthritis and you have nothing else available to you except the right foods and Bikram Yoga I you have a good chance of turning your condition around dramatically.
From the bottom of my heart, thanks to the team at Bikram Bondi Junction in Sydney for not judging me. For allowing me to come in, do my thing, and slowly heal without ever drawing attention to me or making me feel self-conscious. Now I look forward to more hot, challenging and life-changing classes in the future. On both legs.