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For years I was in pain, and it was mostly in my upper back. I was only in my 30ties.
I noticed it got worse over the years, even though I tried various ways in solving my problem. It included 3 different types of Physical Therapies and Acupuncture. There were also medical examinations, and checking out my spine for cancer. The pain was very bad. It got to the point when taking A BREATH was painful. Sneezing or coughing was tough, I had to brace myself with a pillow. At night in bed, I woke up in pain. Changing my position became a real challenge, because I had to brace myself to sit up in bed, so I could turn around. This took a long time.

In my 50ties, I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis. This is a lifelong autoimmune disease, the exact causes are unknown. There is no cure, and the disease is progressive.

I was now in the hands of a Rheumatologist. He offered me a variety of pills to decrease the pain. I choose the least harmful one in terms of side effects. Unfortunately, I did not tolerate the medications well. I stopped the pills, and my visits to the Rheumatologist.

Shortly after, I discovered Bikram Hot Yoga. I started my practice and stayed with it. It was not easy in the beginning, I was often in tears, and I never could make it through the opening breathing exercise without gasping for air.

Over time I felt better. I continued with Bikram Yoga because I realized it was also good for my overall health.

I am in my 70ties now. I have done Bikram Yoga for 15 years and will never stop. I take 1 aspirin a day. I am not in pain. I can take a huge big breath without a problem. There are some limitations in my practice because of all the years I did not do Yoga. However, I know for sure, my disease, the Ankylosing Spondylitis has not progressed.

I am telling my story for everybody to know. I am totally truthful. I am also filled with the most gratitude.

-Erika O”Neil, October 2015