My back started hurting when I was 17 years old. I remember sitting in class in high school one day and I had stabbing pain in my lower back and what felt like shooting pain down my left leg. I didn’t know what was going on.

After many doctor appointments, x-rays, MRI’s, injections, physical therapy, etc, my doctors determined that I had scoliosis and had herniated 4 discs in my lumbar and that I could no longer carry my own backpack to school or sit for longer than 20 minutes at a time. I had to take my SAT’s lying on the floor in the back of the classroom. These same doctors also told me that I should never try yoga, and that I would never be able to touch my toes, and that this pain would be with me for the rest of my life.

For the next few years I was in and out of physical therapy and had running prescriptions for pain killers and muscle relaxers, which I took all day, every day. I was depressed and in a lot of pain all the time. I became desperate for some kind of solution – there had to be a better way than how I was doing things.

I ran into an old friend by chance and he recommended I try Bikram Yoga. I was scared at first, but after a few weeks I decided I had nothing to lose (as Bikram says, “because you never had anything to begin with!”) so I went to my first class in June of 2008.

My life changed immediately. From the first class I felt better than I had in years. I started taking class every day at 6am and each day I practiced, I felt less pain than the day before. I quickly became hooked to the rehabilitative effects of the yoga. I had forgotten what it was like to live for even a few hours without excruciating pain. I was even able to get myself off of all my pain medication – Bikram Yoga became my medicine.

I never expected a mental benefit from yoga. Before I started my practice, I had been suffering from insomnia for years. It was maddening. Yoga took care of that too. I was instantly able to sleep through the night and I haven’t had any issues with sleep since. I started thinking clearer and feeling better and happier, mentally and physically. I couldn’t believe what a difference this beginning yoga practice was making in my life.

As soon as I felt like my body was strong enough, I attended Bikram Yoga Teacher Training in the fall of 2013. I wanted to share this amazing practice that helped me with so many things in my life. I strongly believe in teaching students with love, patience, and kindness. Everyone should feel welcome in the yoga room, no matter what their struggle is that day.

So what are you waiting for? Make today the day you come in and take your first class.