Name: Elizabeth McGlinchey
Location: Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Occupation: Graduate Student
When I was a teenager, a drunk driver drove into me as I crossed the street, leaving me severely injured. Weeks passed, jam-packed with surgery, radiology tests, laboratory tests, and diagnoses. I changed into someone with whom I could no longer identify.
Once my health became stable, I was admitted to a rehabilitation hospital, and was soon able to move around independently… in a wheel chair. I remember the first time I stood up and the excruciating pain that surged through my body. Reminiscent pain still comes and goes in my legs, but it is something I have tolerated well in the years since and it has never stopped me from wanting to become stronger and athletic. Twelve years later I am still healing physically and emotionally.
One of the permanent injuries from the car accident is Spondylolysis, which is a tiny fracture to a section in my spinal column. It is an injury that has never impaired me, at least not up until the winter of 2012. One afternoon, while working out with a personal trainer, I suddenly felt unbearable pain in my lower back. I went to the emergency room that night, but the doctor didn’t see anything remarkable on my x‐rays so I was discharged with narcotics for pain. Later that month I made an appointment to see my orthopedist who said that I must have aggravated the injury. He suggested I try physical therapy and a prescription dosage of Ibuprofen, which only made the pain more tolerable. After five months of ineffective treatment, including two nerve block procedures, I was becoming depressed and losing hope in ever escaping the sharp pain that was screaming inside of me. My doctor was stumped and said that this may be something I’d have to learn to live with. I left his office feeling depressed and abandoned.
But something significant happened to me the following week: I saw my friend Billy who was going away to Bikram Yoga Teacher Training out in Los Angeles and he told me that Bikram Yoga had helped to improve his health. Later that week, I went to a local bookstore to find a book by Bikram Choudhury, the pioneer of Bikram Yoga in the United States. I had done this type of yoga a few times before and I enjoyed it, but had never considered it as anything more than an intense workout. While looking through the index of his book I saw “Spondylolysis.” I couldn’t believe it. Posture # 17, Full Locust Pose and Posture # 21, Camel Pose were beneficial for this type of injury. I read, “…The purpose of yoga is to heal, using the body to create health. That’s its dharma, its nature…[running, jogging, biking, and dancing] creates over use injuries.” Bikram reassured the reader that it’s never too late to “repair the damage by switching to the right kind of exercise, applying the right kind of treatment.”
Once Billy returned from training I decided to take one of his classes because he knows of my physical injuries and limitations. Walking into his class at the studio and beginning with the breathing exercise, I felt safe to explore Bikram Yoga’s potential to heal the pain caused by Spondylolysis. I trusted Bikram more than I did the specialists to whom I had given hundreds of dollars in co-payments for various doctor’s visits and procedures.
I have now been doing Bikram Yoga for over six months and the pain is gone. I feel amazing and that is just from going to the studio one to two times per week. Bikram Yoga prides itself on being able to detoxify the body, as well as to provide a safe physical activity that can prolong someone’s life. It even helped Bikram himself to overcome a physical injury and I am shocked that Western medicine has not yet caught on to its healing potential.
With the cold months ahead, I plan on going to Bikram Yoga in Natick three times per week because it is the only remedy that has alleviated my chronic back pain. I can walk pain free, stand pain free, and sleep pain free. Bikram Yoga gave me back my life and inspired confidence in my mind and body. The exercises reintroduced me to a body of which I had become frightened and estranged, and it allowed me to see that I am fully capable of managing any stressful situation. I stand right in front of the mirror, 26 basic postures in 105 degree heat for 90 minutes of moving meditation. I loosen my mind and my body, from bones to skin and coccyx to the neck. I leave the studio full of vigor and feeling capable of accomplishing anything.
Elizabeth McGlinchey is the survivor of a near fatal car accident. As a teenager, she was hit by a drunk driver as she crossed the street. She is now a 29-year old graduate student, living in Boston, Massachusetts, who is using the practice of Bikram Yoga to heal her years of chronic pain. This winter Elizabeth will complete a Master’s Degree in Art Therapy and Mental Health Counseling from Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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