For approximately ten years of my life, I firmly believed in water polo and swim team. I loved it. I lived for the cool water and competition. Unfortunately though, with each successive year of these sports my throwing shoulder seemed to irritate me more and more. Junior year, I began noticing that every time I rolled my shoulder back, it would pop or crack loudly. This new development sincerely worried me. I had no idea what to do about it or how to fix it other than to just stop swimming, which was not an option since water polo is a year round sport. I began to open my eyes a little wider and noticed that a good half of the varsity and junior varsity teams went to physical therapy for similar reasons to my own. It wasn’t just water polo and swimming with these problems either. Baseball and softball players had shoulder problems just like us. Football, soccer, and tennis players were constantly icing their legs because of shin splints as well. Until then, I thought practices were challenging and fun, but I did not quite comprehend the physical strain placed on our bodies. So many athletes appeared to have some sort of physical problem.
After that, I figured “why not just try physical training? It helps my team mates.” So I went to the doctor and got a three month clearance for physical training and tried it out. I was amazed at how crowded the office was with all ages of people who had tweaked their bodies doing simple, every day activities. In the beginning, I could feel my shoulder slowly growing stronger and cracking less, but the progress leveled off. By the end of those three months, though, I was truly disappointed. Not only did it still hurt, but after one of the therapists messed with it for a while, my neck began to crack too! Not surprisingly, I didn’t return.
I stopped playing water polo and swimming mid way through my senior year in order to have one last year at home truly to myself but the rest did nothing for my shoulder. Sometime around summer, my parents suggested something else, something a little more unconventional; not necessarily to heal my shoulder, but as an alternative to swimming.
I walked into the closed studio, that was heated to to a flaming 105 degrees and tried this new class called Bikram Yoga. Bikram Yoga is a series of compression, extension, spine strengthening and balancing postures done in a hot room so that you can sweat out toxins and so that the postures will effect your body at a deeper level. It was incredible how nauseated, yet rejuvenated I felt from the work out. It was like my body was healing its self from eighteen and a half years of daily abuse. I couldn’t understand how other’s twice or three times my age could do this almost perfectly every day. When I returned home, I researched every position, and the results were fascinating. This new form of exercise, does not have the inherent risk of long term physical stress and every posture is specifically formulated to heal the body from the inside out. Its purpose is to straighten and strengthen the spine, cleanse internal organs, and improve flexibility and concentration. And the best part is, studios all over the country teach the exact same practice.
Now, nine months later, I practice the same class, five days a week, my shoulder feels the best it has in four years and I sincerely recommend it to everyone. I believe in Bikram Yoga.