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Remarkable Healing Power of Bikram Yoga

From The Columbian:

Kelli Rowe tried Bikram yoga one time a few years ago. It wasn’t an enjoyable experience, thanks largely to the man on a nearby mat whose stomach wasn’t agreeing with exercise in a 105-degree room.

Little did Rowe know that just a few years later, Bikram yoga would give the Hazel Dell woman her life back.

“It’s saved me,” Rowe said.

Rowe, 53, has a birth defect, called Arnold-Chiari malformation that caused her to have seizures, migraines and balance issues. When Rowe was 32 years old, she had surgery that stopped the seizures. The other issues, however, persisted. Rowe has daily migraines and has always struggled with her balance.

Still, Rowe was always physically active. She ran every morning, usually 2 to 5 miles, then would pop in a workout DVD or lift weights. She worked as a massage therapist, tended her garden and ran her house.

“I was quite busy,” she said.

Then, one sunny morning in January 2014, that all changed.

Rowe’s Nissan Sentra was struck twice as she waited to turn at a red light. Rowe was left with a concussion and a totaled car. She was given medication to manage the persistent pain.

A few months later, she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and was prescribed psychotropic medication. She was also on sleeping pills to help her fall asleep at night and was taking additional medications to balance the side effects of the other drugs.

“I was on so many meds,” Rowe said. “It helped me through a time, but it wasn’t the answer for what I needed.”

Rowe was unable to run or lift weights. She couldn’t work in her garden. Keeping up with her raw foods diet became too cumbersome. Soon, she was 50 pounds heavier and had arthritis in her back. She had no energy, no motivation.

“I went from being very physical to, ‘I don’t want to do this,’” Rowe said. “I didn’t know limits before. Now I have to ask for help.”

That’s where hot yoga came in.

That November, one of Rowe’s friends bought her a 30-day pass for Bikram yoga as a birthday gift. Rowe was ready to make a change, to try something new. That first month, she attended 60 classes.

Rowe never turned back. With the exception of a monthlong break to sort out medication issues, Rowe has been a regular presence at the Bikram Yoga Hazel Dell studio.

“It’s worked out a lot of kinks,” Rowe said.

Today, Rowe has been off of all medications for four months. She’s stronger. She’s sleeping better. Her body feels good. Her mind feels clear.

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