Breast Cancer and Bikram Yoga

September 27, 2013 

Hi, I’m Bridget. I’m your yoga teacher and I am seven months cancer free.
During a routine mammogram in January they discovered a large area of concern. On that Wednesday doctors performed several wire insertions, core samples and a biopsy. While the procedures were not incredibly painful, I was anxious and didn’t know what to expect or what to feel from one to the next. I practiced breathing slowly in through the nose and slowly out through the nose to head off the rising panic and to give myself a calming focus. I get savasanas now and how comforting it is to be still in the standing series.

They sent me home with ice packs, gauze, bandages and a very misshapen profile. The swelling continued as did the bleeding. I stopped practicing that week. And then I started to talk myself out of teaching that Sunday morning class. You know how it is. Just like with my practice or rather my excuses not to practice: ‘Ok, you can stay home just this once. There’s nothing wrong with taking a break and, of course, oh why not?!? This is the perfect excuse.’

I taught the Sunday class not because of any great feat of courage, but because I listened. You can do this: one breath at a time, one posture at a time, you’ve got this. And as a post script, the next time you think someone is judging you for what you’re wearing or what your postures look like, let that thought go. They are not looking at you.  And if they are, it’s about them, not you. Because I couldn’t raise my arm or wiggle into a snug fitting elastic top, I wore a loose button front shirt. The only shirt I had was tacky and Hawaiian. And no one noticed, or at least no one said a word?

On Monday the biopsy results confirmed breast cancer,specifically ductal carcinoma in situ or DCIS. I am very fortunate. DCIS is the most common form of non-invasive breast cancer.

I don’t remember the next few weeks very well. During the day I had an incessant urge to get things done; at night I couldn’t sleep.Surprisingly, I didn’t want to go online to research the possibilities. I poked around looking up a few definitions here and there and when things became too scary I logged off. Thankfully I did not venture onto any blogs. I do recall having one hissy-fit. I had an appointment to have my hair colored. As I grabbed my car keys some of the thoughts and unknowns that I had stuffed began to spiral to the surface and I let them grow and take up too much space. The arms started waving, the voice grew very loud, the tears erupted and everything inside ripped wide open. Why am I bothering? This is a waste of money. I’m probably going to lose my hair anyway. Drama and probably a little fear. It's no different than being in the hot room. Don’t allow fear of the unknown or the attention-seeking drama to take over. If you do you will never move forward. So feel the feelings They will pass. It’s okay to flop around like a fish the first class, but after that don’t be a drama queen. Just breathe.

I had to decide between a lumpectomy or a mastectomy. A lumpectomy would be minimally invasive, but there would also be the risk of recurrence. It would be followed by radiation and five years of medication, or chemotherapy. Luckily for me the estrogen and progesterone receptors were positive so I would not need chemotherapy. In my case, if I chose a mastectomy, I would not require radiation or chemotherapy. And there might be that little added peace of mind that they ‘got everything’, although it comes with its own set of issues. My initial choice was to have a mastectomy, however that changed after learning that with a mastectomy I would most likely have a loss of range of motion and some degree of pain for some part or possibly the rest of my life. I decided to go through with a lumpectomy and marginalize the possibility of recurrence. The first surgery was not completely successful. Sixteen days later I had a second surgery with clear margins. I ended up with a partial mastectomy.*

I took my first class a week after surgery. It felt good to feel normal. It was comforting to go through the routine of the same twenty six postures with two breathing exercises. It was a safe place to unburden some of the feelings and some of the tears without making anyone feel they needed to give me some there-there. How often is anyone able to be in the moment by themselves, in the company of a wonderful group of people all struggling together? It was a great cover except for the fact that my nose lights up when I cry. Read Bridget’s post about how she had to adapt her postures post-op.

In the beginning my range of motion was limited. I did not have the same degree of stretch that I had before surgery, but I was able to stretch! In my mind I stuck out in class and I felt embarrassed, when in fact, what I felt was ego. Prior to surgery I thought there were only a handful of arm strengthening/pectoral enhancing postures. Now I know better. They all do. You just have to want to work those muscles.

Every posture required a modification. I was not in pain when I practiced, but I was aware of where the edge was. If I started to force something I would be reminded with a sharp feeling or an immediate muscle constriction after I finished the posture. Savasanas in the Cobra series, wow, those were another story, but that was an easy fix: I did the third trimester pregnancy modification. Unlike my tacky Hawaiian shirt, someone noticed. A student practicing next to me smiled after class and asked if I was pregnant. I’m in my fifties?..

Two weeks after surgery I began a six week stretch of radiation. Think heavy-duty sun burn pain with a cheap spray tan discoloration. Added insult to injury. While the area was more sensitive, I don’t think the radiation limited my practice. During the day I felt fatigued and had no zip. Oddly enough, I didn’t feel tired when I practiced. I felt energized.

I finished radiation in time for Memorial Day weekend. I ‘woo-hooed’ for three days and started taking a medication called tamoxifen that Tuesday. I will be on this course for the next five years. Possible side effects are weight gain, mood swings and, my favorite, hot flashes. So far I have been able to avoid the weight gain. I don’t feel moody or irritable although I heard my husband cautioning someone under his breath, ‘Just don’t look her in the eye and you’ll be okay’. And I’ve got the market cornered on hot flashes. Winter can’t come fast enough! But in the hot room I feel absolutely fine.

My recovery has been incredible and for that I have to thank the yoga both before the surgery and while I heal. It helps me with so much:being present, being mindful, accepting myself with my abilities and limitations for that day’accepting you with your abilities and limitations for that day, and obviously all the stretching and range of motion. Sure, some days are more challenging than others, but that was true before all this happened.When I practice, I feel better. Muscles slide over each other easier, tendons have just a little more give and I have added strength and energy. When I don’t practice, I age very quickly. Simply stated, I can’t afford not to practice yoga.

I am not alone in class. Several students shared their experiences, their thoughts and helpful insights. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Maybe you have your own fears or questions and would like to talk about it. Please set your mat up next to me. You’re not alone. There is so much healing to be found in the hot room. It’s a shame not to reach out to it.

* Oh give it up already! There is so much scar tissue and traumatic swelling you can’t tell which side.

Battling Diabetes through Bikram Yoga

Type 1 Diabetes also known as Juvenile Diabetes or Diabetes Melitus is a genetic condition usually affecting children.

Juvenile Diabetes has nothing to do with an unhealthy lifestyle, eating too much sugar, or lack of exercise. There is genetic abnormality on chromosome six that causes the white blood cells of the body to attack the insulin-producing portion of the pancreas killing the hormone which enables the body to metabolize carbohydrates. Without insulin a person will die because there is no way for the cells to get the nutrients they need for survival.

When I was 10 years old, I lost 30 pounds in one month. I was lethargic and unable to wake up for school.  My parents were convinced that I was depressed and did not want to attend school. When I went to the doctor a blood sugar test showed that my blood sugar levels were in the 600s (normal range is 80-120).  A blood sugar this high can lead to coma and eventually death.  It was determined that I had Juvenile Diabetes.

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Can You Practice Hot Yoga During Pregnancy?

began a blog to be of assistance in helping you to make educated decisions about exercise during yours.

At the studio, we’ve had several women in low-risk pregnancies have their doctors tell them that they could not practice hot yoga while pregnant, with little information on the classes.  Please take the concerns of your physician or midwife seriously.  Women with high-risk pregnancies must first obtain a doctor’s note to participate in classes at Blaze Yoga and Pilates.

Many doctors, however, incorrectly assume that practicing in a hot room is akin to being in a sauna or Jacuzzi and that is where their concern develops.  Both a sauna and a Jacuzzi are much hotter than a standard hot yoga class.  The biggest difference is the inability for the body to cool itself when in a sauna or Jacuzzi.  Sweat (evapotranspiration) and moving air (convection) are the cooling mechanisms for a practicing yogi.  Neither of these are existent in a Jacuzzi and only one (sweat) in a sauna where the air is heated up to 40 degrees hotter than a Bikram Yoga or Inferno Hot Pilates class.Naturally, many pregnant women have concerns about hot yoga during pregnancy.  

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Clean and Green

One of the primary pillars that makes Blaze Yoga and Pilates is our commitment to a GREEN approach. We believe strongly that all of our actions should contribute to a cleaner and greener studio, region, country, and planet.

With that in mind, we are always working to offer the most effective, green, sustainable environment possible so that we can all thrive, together.

Is the studio clean? I'll start to answer the first question with a question back: have you met my husband, Jaylon? He steam cleans our carpets at home for fun. At the end of a long, hard day, he just wants to hot steam-mop the kitchen floor.

A rare sighting of Jaylon in his natural habitat.

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Yoga as a Tool in Healing: How to feel better

Kyle Maiorana and Erin Holt of the Funk’tional Nutrition podcast this week to talk about what role yoga can play in healing chronic pain and illness.

Both women are registered dietitians who work to help their clients develop personalized plans for health that cover all aspects of their lives. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the work they do and wait anxiously each week for the release of the next episode. Topics cover everything from healthy fats to good sources of animal protein, and from the benefits of CBD oil to understanding diet culture. They also host people in the fields of health and wellness to share their unique areas of expertise.
I had the great pleasure of joining

Will I pass out in hot yoga?

The short answer to the question is: it’s highly unlikely.

Many new students have heard horror stories about yoga classes so hot that people were dropping like flies and being carried out of the room. Most of these are embellished or frankly fabricated. Like any tall tale, there’s always a kernel of truth: usually survival stories from teacher training where they try to burn you down metaphorically so you can rise like a phoenix from the ashes. You won’t find that in a general public yoga class.

I sat down this morning and tried to count how many times I’ve seen people pass out in yoga. I couldn’t even fill up one hand. I’ve heard stories of more than that, but in 17 years of practicing and teaching Bikram Yoga, I’ve only seen three people “go down” in a class.

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Small Business Saturday!

Small Business Saturday is back on Saturday, November 24th. Join us for free classes and special sales the Saturday after Thanksgiving!

We love you all so much and can’t wait for the opportunity to show our gratitude to this amazing yoga community by offering free classes for you and your friends and family and special discounts on yoga and accessories.

Save your spot in the free classes below!

 25% off retail does not include food or CBD
Intro Month for the price of a drop in! $20 for 30 days unlimited
Special! 5-class card for $79 one day only!
Special! 50-class card for $739 one day only!
Special! Annual Unlimited for $1,099 just $91.58/month!
Autopay Ten Card for $150 automatically renews every ten classes or six months

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Practicing Yoga While Sick

Can I practice when I’m sick?

It’s a question we get at the studio often. As with most yoga-related questions,there’s no one-size-fits-all answer.

First and foremost, if you have something contagious, please stay home and keep it to yourself. We once had a student undergoing treatment for a persistent MRSA infection practicing at the studio for four months without telling us.

Lucky for all who were practicing at that time, our sweat contains powerful antiseptic peptides in dermcidin. The best feature of dermcidin is that it attacks the microbes’ cell walls, not something to which a microbe can develop resistance.

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Welcome to Blaze Yoga and Pilates!

We are thrilled to welcome you to the studio and to our wonderful community. Here, I’m going to share some tips to help you get the most out of your time with us.

We offer the most effective hot yoga and Pilates techniques available in the world from the best trained teachers who can help you meet your goals and heal your body. Whatever your goal, whatever your challenge, whatever your limitation, we are confident we can help.

We are on a mission to help people take control of their health and wellness so they can feel great and have a positive impact on the world.

You may have heard some crazy stories about hot yoga and Pilates. We’ve made this short video to help you thrive through your first class:

Donna Carberry Memorial Fund

In 2011, the BYP community lost a very special member when Donna Carberry passed away after a hard-fought battle with cancer. Donna was loved by all who knew her. She loved life, her family, hiking, nature, running, music, and yoga. In her own words, Donna was “in love with love.” Her bright smile lit up every class she attended.

Throughout her fight, Donna continued to practice yoga with us. She’d enter the studio with a huge smile every day and always shared her gratitude for each day and each class, despite the effects of chemo or when the cancer degraded her bones.

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Top Tips for Getting and Staying Hydrated for Yoga and Pilates

Hydration is key to having a great class and good hydration is more than just pounding water. Here are some quick tips to help you stay on top of your game.

eight central pillars

At Blaze Yoga and Pilates, there are eight central pillars that serve as the foundation for all that we do.

With the support of these core values, we are able to uphold our mission as a yoga studio to support our community members to take charge of their health, to heal their wounds, and amplify their lives so they can maximize their impact on the world.

By practicing our eight pillars, we are able to achieve our vision that our studio is able to create a robust and impactful community that ushers positivity and change into the world.

Commit to 90

Our powerful Commit to 90 Whole Life Challenge is back and better than ever!

We’re so stoked to team up with Functional Nutritionist Erin Holt to bring you our new and improved Commit to 90 Whole Life Challenge.

Commit to 90 is a 90-day challenge that rewards you for taking care of yourself. Instead of blasting out classes every day for a month like we’ve always done in our September 30-day Challenge, we’ll focus on building a regular, steady practice. CT90 is designed to help you make informed decisions around nutrition, learn to fuel your body, heal your relationship with food, build community connections, and make time for activities that enhance your life.

Watch this video to learn more!

How Yoga Enhances Recovery

As a culture, we have become very familiar with the suffering and loss associated with substance use disorders.  We are also quick to notice the psycho-biological symptoms associated with them. What we may not be as familiar with, and completely unprepared for, however, is the discomfort associated with Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome or PAWS.  PAWS refers to abstinence-based biological changes that occur once an individual has made a decision for change and entered recovery. It is the abstinence-based biological symptoms of PAWS that makes early recovery so uncomfortable and hard to understand, and therefore extremely difficult to maintain.

Join us for a special lecture on Yoga and Sobriety Monday, October 8th at 5 pm.

Hot Yoga and Back Pain

This testimonial is the story of my personal recovery from debilitating pain from herniated discs through the practice of the therapeutic Bikram Method Yoga.  This yoga gave me back my life. In the depths of my pain, I remember sitting in the car with my husband outside one of our favorite restaurants crying. I couldn’t even imagine enduring the suffering of a nice, romantic dinner. The thought of sitting for 45-minutes was pure torture.

The following is my story and experience. I have included a posture-by-posture list of my personal approach to the practice for back pain-sufferers. I offer the information to help you on your way. People write me daily asking if Bikram Yoga will work for them. I am not a doctor. It worked for me. It has worked for hundreds of my students. The principles work.

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