Kathleen says that Bikram yoga gave her back her life. When you hear what she has been through – “In a period of six years, I had both of my knee joints replaced, two major back surgeries with bone grafts from my hips to my back, and removal of the rectus abdominus muscle as part of reconstructive surgery after cancer.” – you can tell that she’s not exaggerating. “Going from using a walker to doing Bikram yoga is the most significant achievement of my life – and when you are only two years away from 70 that is a lot of life experience,” she exclaims.
Kathleen started doing Bikram yoga because she saw what a difference it made in her daughter’s life. It made a difference in Kathleen’s life as well, but perhaps not immediately, “I hated my first class and couldn’t understand why anyone would subject themselves to such a brutal routine.” However, she stuck with it for three years before moving to the Sunshine Coast which she describes as “a nice place to live – but no Bikram yoga for seven years.”
In 2013 Kathleen moved to Pitt Meadows to help out with her two grandsons; she also got a doctor’s warning that she would have to do something about her high blood pressure or she would have to go back on medications spurred Kathleen to into action. “Medications,” she scoffed, “not likely! I’ve had enough medical interventions for two lifetimes.” So In March of 2014 Kathleen started Bikram yoga again at the Maple Ridge studio.
Even with her busy schedule, “I work in Vancouver two-days a week; I watch my grandsons four days a week, two of which are full days; and I write business plans about twice a month,” Kathleen makes time for what has become the most important part of her day, “I do Bikram about five times a week, although some weeks it’s only 4 times. “ She goes on to add, “I don’t exactly have a lot of time, but I always make time for my yoga. It is the once place where I quiet my mind, because if you don’t focus you fall down.” She also reiterates something that almost all of our dedicated practioners say: “The 90 minutes I spend in the studio is my time, and I simply make going my priority.”
For Kathleen it’s not about having postures that look amazing, and sometimes they may not feel all that great either, but she is seeing incremental changes in mobility and a reduction in pain. “I’m not great at any of the postures: there are some I can’t do at all (toe-stand), some I can barely do and some I almost get right. I just keep doing the best I can to the best of my ability.” One milestone she notes is regaining her balance. “After the knee joint replacements I had nerve damage in my feet, and they get pretty sore, but the yoga is helping.” Kathleen continues to focus on what she can instead of what she can’t do: “The arthritis is not going to disappear, and there is some more damage in my back, but I don’t care. The yoga helps and I am really happy to be back at Bikram yoga. I am feeling strong again; I sleep better; and my clothes fit more comfortably. I may not be able to do this for a lot of years, but while the opportunity is here, I am going to keep practicing as often as I can.” One thing she can do really well is smile – both in and outside of class.
Kathleen adds, “If I can do Bikram yoga, anybody can do it. After all we only get one chance at this wild and precious life and I intend to make the most of what is left to me.”