I was born and raised in Minnesota, and began my Bikram yoga practice in 2008 in Richardson, Texas. I had been struggling with lumbar spinal stenosis since 2001. The level of pain increased rapidly — after a while I couldn’t carry my own backpack, and under doctor’s orders, I couldn’t 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. I was 17 years old.

My doctors told me never to try yoga, and that I would never be able to even touch my toes. After many long bouts of physical therapy and years of masking the pain with prescription pain killers, I was desperate for a solution. A friend recommended Bikram Yoga, and after weeks of debating with myself, I decided I had nothing to lose and went to my first class. My life changed immediately. Each day I practiced and felt less pain than the day before, and I was quickly hooked to the amazing rehabilitative effects of the yoga. I had forgotten what it was like to live for a few hours without pain. I never expected a mental benefit from yoga, but I started sleeping better, thinking clearer, and found myself able to just enjoy the present moment and be content with where I was in life.

In 2011, after moving across the country to this beautiful state, 2 discs in my lumbar spine suddenly ruptured, and I quickly began losing mobility below my waist. At this point, the only option left, besides living the rest of my life in a wheelchair, was surgery. As soon as I was allowed, which was almost a year after surgery and extensive physical therapy, I was back in the yoga room. I knew I needed my yoga. Bikram Yoga is my neutralizer, and without it I struggle through my life in pain. What’s right is what works.

Once my back was strong enough, I attended Bikram Yoga Teacher Training Fall 2013. I strongly believe in teaching students with patience, encouragement, positivity, love, and non-judgement. Everyone should feel welcome in the yoga room, no matter what their struggle. Each day is another opportunity to realize the changes and challenges in the body.