I had extensive pain in my feet, hands, knees, wrists and shoulders. I wasn't able to walk down stairs, bend to sit on a chair or stand on my tiptoes and walk like a ballerina. The pain was incredible! Overwhelming and very frightening.
In addition to the pain I developed large nodules on my wrists and in my fingers. The 3rd to 5th toes on my right foot were showing the beginning of deformation in x-rays and the same was showing in my hands. As you can imagine this created an initial 'balance' problem in the yoga class. A problem that I overcame in time. You, too, may experience some challenge with the balancing postures because of your gait but you will be able to adjust and balance sooner than you think.
Because my body was so quickly crumbling I had to take action. After much exploration in the alternative healing field I found Bikram Yoga. Prior to Bikram I practiced Power Yoga or Ashtanga Yoga which I could no longer do because of the impact it put on my already damaged wrists. Bikram Yoga did not subject me to that danger yet still offered the aerobics I was looking for.
I thank God every day that I found the courage and strength to step into that Bikram yoga room. From that moment forward my life, my health and my attitude changed for the absolute better. However, I had to commit and I had to work.
I suggest you go the nearest health or magazine store and buy the February 2002 copy of The Yoga Journal. It has a wonderful article in it about Yoga And Arthritis. You will hear my story in that article which will help you in your research.
Since sharing my personal story with The Yoga Journal I have received many emails for RA patients around the country. Many of those patients confirmed that the Bikram Yoga also helped them. Many of those patients were sharing their gratitude and appreciation for my willingness to send a positive message to others in search of alternative healing. Most of those patients were going to give it a try, too.
I want to tell you that I have not cured my RA. It has, however, gone into remission. I am also still taking medications but the dosage of each has greatly been reduced since the Bikram Yoga and one day I hope to be medicine free. The Bikram Yoga acts as a pill. If I am taking it daily I feel good. If I "fall off the Bikram wagon" for a bit...I feel pain once again.
I encourage you to just TRY and remember that you must accept the challenge or difficulty of any situation in order to become powerful in it. You have nothing to lose and you can do ONLY what her body will allow you to do in class. It may take months for you to complete an entire 90-minute class but in the meantime you are perfectly free to do as little or as much as you are able on any given day. I will remind you that this is a yoga class that is designed for EVERYONE. We are all our own individual and we must listen to the unique messages our bodes send us with all three ears. You can always take breaks during class, skip one set of each posture if you feel a need and you can ask the instructor for some specific modifications if there is just too much pain in the beginning.
Time in the Bikram Yoga Class will most likely be your friend. There will be some difficult days but I am confident that there will be a longer, healthier life ahead if you can just keep the faith and TRY.