I was diagnosed with quite severe Rheumatoid Arthritis on my 22nd birthday. I couldn't walk, stand or sit for long periods of time, and I had to be carried to and from the bathroom. I was bedridden for 3 months.
After 6 years of taking various types of medications that included weekly chemotherapy and daily cortisone, I found Bikram Yoga. I was living in London at the time and tried to find something that would help me get through the freezing winter. I convinced a friend to come with me and we were hooked. Bikram was the first exercise I had found in 6 years that didn't leave me sore for the next week, that I could do on a regular basis and that I enjoyed doing. Exercise had become such a struggle for me physically that I had pretty much given up doing it.
Nine months later I went on a yoga retreat in Italy. I did Bikram every day, sometimes twice a day, for 10 days and I was still walking! That was when I knew I had found the right exercise for me. It was on this yoga retreat that I stopped taking cortisone, a medication that I'd been taking every day since I was diagnosed, and one that I didn't think I would ever come off. I haven't taken it since, much to my doctor's amazement!
It hasn't all been easy though. It took me 6 months to get into fixed firm position. After 3 years I still can't lock my knee. I don't do toe stand as it hurts my knees. And some days I still need to sit down during the class. However, I am incredibly happy with my progress and I know that Bikram Yoga will always be part of my life.