Using Bikram Yoga To Help Reverse Rheumatoid Arthritis with Rowena Jayne
This is the first of three episodes with raw food chef and yoga champion Rowena Jayne. In this episode Rowena explains how she went from a very dark place in her life with Rheumatoid Arthritis and turned it all around to become two-time Australian yoga champion. You will learn:
– How Rowena was able to reverse Rheumatoid Arthritis naturally
– How emotional behaviours can influence disease
– How Bikram yoga can be incredibly effective at reversing RA
– Motivational strategies to achieve outstanding results
Full Transcription Below
Clint: Okay. Welcome everyone to our three-part series, a very special three-part series that we’ve set up with a very wonderful guest, Rowena Jayne, who is going to be joining us on the next three episodes. Good day Rowena.
Clint: Now you’ve got the great accolade of having three podcasts, and that’s because you’ve got three amazing things to talk about. First of all, let me expand a little bit on your intro. You’re a raw food expert, and a published author in that field, through Belle-Bauer Press.
Clint: You’re a two-time Australian yoga champion.
Rowena: You’ve been doing your research.
Clint: Right. Yeah. And you’re a qualified and practicing naturopath.
Rowena: I am.
Clint: Right. So, now, all of those things are awesome, but what makes it even more awesome for our listeners is that you have suffered from, previously, with rheumatoid arthritis. And, so we would love to go through all of those things that I just mentioned, and learn from you, so that listeners can get a benefit from your experience with how you were able to reverse, on two occasions, your inflammation, the rheumatoid inflammation, in your knee. So, in this episode I’d like you to help us out with the Bikram yoga. And then, in the subsequent podcasts, we’ll cover some other topics. So, why don’t you take over from here, and explain what you went through with your health and rheumatoid arthritis. And then we’ll get into the yoga after that.
Rowena: Okay. Well, I guess, Clint, I was actually in the entertainment industry. So, I was dancing, acting, and singing. And then I was doing a lot of touring and all kinds of things. I started studying massage in between, and then one day I turned up to massage school and my knee just swelled up the size of a football. I didn’t know what was going on, and I went to the doctors. And they said, “You’re going to have to go and get aspirated.” And I was laughing, because I was thinking, “No, I’m not.” Because I’m so anti any Western-type medicine. So, I went, and then they told me that I had rheumatoid arthritis, and had the rheumatoid factor, and everything, and they told me it would never, ever heal. And, so I kind of went into a bit of a denial.
Prior to that happening, though, I had been really struggling with an eating disorder for, God, probably about 10 years. A long, long, just eating to, sort of, in terms of emotional eating. So, binging on just a pack of chips, and chocolates, everything that’s going to cause inflammation in the body. Lots of sugar and lots of wheat, particularly. Wheat was my biggest, I’d eat a whole loaf of bread kind of thing, in a binge. Yeah. So it was the sugar and the bread, were the key binge foods. And then, from there, I’d go to the starvation side. So, I’d live on carrot juice or that. So my diet was just completely yo-yo. No consistency. I was struggling with constipation for at least a year. My health was declining. My nails were splitting. My hair was bad.
And then, before that, just before the swelling in the knee happened, I actually went through a massive period of stress, where a particular person in my life was threatening to kill me. So, it was a bit of a traumatic time. And during that time, my body was reacting a lot, even though I was getting sciatica and it was just, sort of, collapsing all the time, when I’d try to walk. And my eating disorder was just rampant during that time, obviously. Because I was just living in so much fear. I was, literally, in fear mode. Wasn’t sleeping well. So, yeah. And then, just the flare-up happened.
I went to the rheumatologist. All they were wanting to do was aspirate. I had had a kidney disease years earlier, nephritis, glomerular nephritis, the inflammation of kidneys. So I didn’t really want to go on any meds. And, at that time, because this was back in 2000, when was this? Two thousand or 2001, or something like that? Around 2000, it was the year 2000. So it was a long time ago. And, back then, all they had was anti-inflammatories. They didn’t have methotrexate or anything like to offer you. So, pretty much, they said, “You’re just going to have to be on anti-inflammatories for the rest of your life. That’s pretty much all we can do, and just keep aspirating it.” And I was not happy with that at all. As you obviously know.
So, I sort of took matters into my own hands. I was very uneducated at the time. I had no idea, all I was doing was studying massage. One of our teachers was a naturopath, so I sort of got as much as I could from him. And I was seeing a chiropractor who also does kinesiology and acupuncture and homeopathy and all kinds of things. So I was getting as much from him, as well. But, because I was still in that midst of the eating disorder, it was a real challenge. Because I’d go through the periods where I’m, “Let’s eat. I’m going to get my health back.” And I was so dedicated and really trying to get everything together, in terms of my food and my diet, and I was trying everything I could find, and read. I remember putting capsaicin on my knee, and everything. You try everything when you’re under that desperate mode.
At the time, I couldn’t really walk, so I was on crutches. And I lived in an apartment, three stories up, with no lift. So I was isolated up there. And I guess I just kept seeing the kinesiologist three times a week, and he did put me on fish oils, which didn’t really work for me. I didn’t really find that really helped me at all. And I just found that I was just juicing a lot. That was probably the biggest thing, I noticed the difference when I juiced a lot the swelling would go down a lot. But, still, because I was in that state of emotional eating, I hadn’t really dealt with that mind-set that was needing me to shoot from there. So, it took a long time, and it was just going up and down, up and down, up and down. There was no consistency. And then it, literally, went down. And, then it went up again, then it went down. But, it went down enough for me to start working and all that sort of stuff. So, that’s when, it wasn’t long after that I ended up, God, I ended up in hospital, with a bleeding colon.
Clint: My God.
Rowena: So, yeah. I wasn’t in a state of health up in my mind. So I just kept snowballing, I guess. But that was the biggest wake-up call for me. So, I was in hospital and they told me, “We think you have Crohn’s disease.” Which, as you know, is a very, very aggressive inflammatory condition of the colon. So, there’s the relationship with the gut stuff. And then when they said that to me I just could have heard this really strong voice inside that, “No, you don’t have Crohn’s disease, this is your wake-up call. You’ve got to change your life.”
Then I was walking down the street, not long ago, not long after being in hospital, well, hobbling. And somebody called out my name. And so, I was looking around, and there’s no one there. And then I heard that same voice that was in hospital say, “Look up.” And I looked up and there was this big sign, Bikram Yoga Lane Cove. And, I started thinking in my heart, “This is it.” So I went and I checked when the timetable was on, and I went to my first class. And I signed up, actually, for three months, before I’d even tried a class. And that class changed my life. I basically, went into remission for 11 years, with the arthritis. Obviously, it didn’t happen overnight. But, within the first month I had no swelling, I had no pain. And, obviously, it was helping with my mind-set, with my eating disorder, so all I wanted to do was eat really well. And so, yeah, I went to this whole period where I was find. And, I had, like I said, no swelling, no pain.
I did notice, from time to time, I’d get a little bit of swelling in my left leg, and that was always a bit of a sign for me, “Okay, you’re a bit out of whack.” So, I’d have to go, and I’d usually go on a bit of a juice cleanse, or eat more raw food, or something. Just to, sort of, get the inflammation out. But, that was always a bit of a sign for me. That little bit of swelling in my leg happens before anything else happens.
Rowena: And that’s what happened when my next flare-up. I went through a massive, massive period of stress again. I was studying full time again. I was training for the World Yoga Championships, so I was working full time, studying full time, and training much, trying to train about three to six hours a day. So I was pushing myself to the limit. I was studying nutrition at the time, so I was learning a lot about rheumatoid arthritis, which is quite interesting. And I remember them saying in class one day that one of the biggest causes, that they think, is also the wheat, and the inflammation from the wheat. And, I remember sitting there and crying, because I was, like, “My God! I did this to myself! I ate all that wheat when I was in that horrible state of mind.” But, yes, so I ended up with the flare-up not long after all the stress was happening in my life, and . . .
Clint: How long? How long apart. . .
Rowena: So, it was 11 years . . .
Clint: They were a long time apart . . .
Rowena: It was a long time.
Clint: Yeah, so you went for 11 years without any obvious RA symptoms?
Rowena: Nothing. And, I haven’t mentioned, I didn’t have RA all through my body. I’m very, very blessed. It’s only ever been in my left knee. So, it’s what they typically called mono-arthritis. But I definitely had rheumatoid factor, I definitely had the high inflammation. The reactive protein, but interestingly . . .
Clint: You’re swelling in your knee, I’ve seen photographs of it online. It was swelled up like a, well, I’ve called it a cantaloupe but we call it a rock melon here.
Rowena: Yeah. A rock melon.
Clint: Acute, right?
Clint: And you were bedridden like that for a while, right?
Clint: So, just as a little interjection here.
Rowena: Yeah. Yeah.
Clint: A lot of our listeners have rheumatoid arthritis, like I did, throughout the whole body, chest, jaw, knees, ankles, everything, right?
Rowena: I’ll tell you.
Clint: And, so, we just want to make sure that people understand that, although the spread of the disease wasn’t, thankfully, as bad, you were diagnosed and had all the symptoms within the left knee. And the left knee was atrocious.
Rowena: Yeah, it was, yeah.
Rowena: You couldn’t even tell I had a knee.
Rowena: And the pain, the pain, I’ll never… I can’t. Well, you all know. That pain!
Clint: Let’s move forward.
Clint: And picking up from now, 11 years later.
Rowena: Yeah. Yeah, so, 11 years later, again, on my way to college. The irony is that it happened similarly on the way to college. Ironically, though, the one or two weeks before this flare-up happened I was getting that real, kind of, swelling and fluid retention in my ankle and bottom of my leg, left leg.
Clint: The ankle as well?
Rowena: So, I’ve noticed that that, that’s why I know that is the 100% sign for me now. I had been living in India. I had a massive boil on that same left leg. And, it wouldn’t heal, and so over a year it was pussy and horrible. It was like this deep boil, it looked like there was a big hole in my leg. So, obviously, living in India and all, it was during the rainy season, and it was a massive infection, so that could have contributed. The stress contributed, and I remember feeling really tired, also around that time, and I was tending to eat a little bit more sugary-type stuff, so I think that was also a little bit of correlation. But, yeah, going back. The knee swelled up. This was the worse flare-up, actually, worse than the first time I had it.
Rowena: Which was such a bizarre thing. But, yeah, so the pain was worse, the swelling was worse. But I think, also, what had happened too, I actually think I had a little bit of a tear, you know how you get the Baker’s cyst?
Rowena: I think that’s what happened, because there’s a bit of a rupture.
Clint: The fluid leaks into the back of the knee.
Rowena: So, yeah. I think that’s what happened. Anyway, so I was bedridden. I woke up one morning and went to go to the toilet, no, it was in the middle of the night. I woke up to go to the toilet, and I put my foot down and I actually couldn’t walk on it. And that hadn’t happened to that extreme the first time I’d had it. So, then, you go through that all, “My God, I’m crippled. This is my life.” I literally told my dad, “I want to commit suicide,” and he started crying, because he knew I meant it. Like, I said, “I don’t want to live if this is my life.” So, it was a pretty horrendous flare-up, but I was studying nutrition, I was around the most supportive people who did a lot of work with, actually, flower essences, which works mentally and emotionally. So we did a lot of work with that. I was really following as much as I learned in Ayurvedic medicine, and just watching the principles there. I try and put myself in balance. And, then eating, having a lot of juices. I was eating a bit of mung dal. Interesting enough, because I was at college learning that I should have fish and should have salmon. I thought, “You know what? You’re desperate, I’m going to try it.” But I did notice that any time I ate salmon it got worse and it swelled up straight away. So, I was, “Well they’re telling us we’re supposed to have all this fish oil,” and I was pounding it into me. And then, the moment I had the salmon, bang! Swelling. So I stopped taking that.
I did go to the rheumatologist. I was taking all the herbs. Everything that I was learning in herbal medicine and nutritional medicine. Because, see, everything, I was trying. And then, of course, the flare-up was actually a long time, about eight months. But, it wasn’t as bad for eight months. Probably the four-month period was the bad period. And, I went to the rheumatologist because my parents were always supporting me financially, obviously, and we don’t see the results, and, “You’ve got to go.” So, I went to the rheumatologist, and he checked my bloods, and he said, “No, keep doing what you’re doing.” He said, “You don’t actually have rheumatoid factor in your blood.” Whereas before I had. So, and there was high inflammation, though. Obviously the white blood count, everything was up. But, he said, “Keep doing what you’re doing. Here’s some methotrexate. If you don’t want to take it, then just tell your parents you’re just, kind of, taking it.” Sorry Mom and Dad! Now they know. They don’t know this until now.
Clint: I won’t tell.
Rowena: So, I was pretending to take it. Honestly, I had already that fear, I’d read all the negatives, and I had all my teachers telling me how bad it was. I didn’t want to lose my hair. I didn’t want my liver to be shot? So, I did try to take it for the first week, or two weeks, or whatever it was. It was two weeks, because it’s only one a week. And, every single part of me was just cringing every time I took it. I just couldn’t, I just couldn’t do it to myself. So, I just stopped. And, I just kept taking folic acid and pretending that that’s what I was doing in front of my parents. And the rheumatologist had said to me, “If it gets better within this first six months, anyway, it’s got nothing to do with the drug, because it takes a long time to work.” So, I just kept doing what I was doing. Juicing, eating really well, lots of salads, adding those moong dal, the mung dal, for me, really worked, I found. And then, yeah, taking lots of turmeric, lots of anti-inflammatory-type herbs. I was taking a herb, an Ayurvedic herb, hemidesmus, which actually it suppresses the immune system a little bit. Anything, ashwagandha, anything for stress, adaptogens, all the stuff I was learning in college, I just started applying. But, of course, not all that fish oil and stuff like that. I was having a bit of chia seeds. I don’t know whether that was working or not working, but I did use that in my diet, to get the protein in, I guess. And then, yeah, I have to admit, I did have an injection.
Clint: In the knee?
Rowena: Yeah. In the knee. When it was that bad. I had two injections. It was that bad, and I just had to. Again, that went against my grain of what I wanted to do, but, sometimes you’re desperate and, I just couldn’t cope with the pain anymore. So I had it.
Clint: I’ve had cortisone injections. I’ve had one in my left knee, which did the trick. And what I encourage people to do, based on their own judgement, and also, with the guidance of their rheumatologist, is if all of the rest of their body has complied to all of the other natural changes. But there’s one joint that just won’t come on board. Whether that joint’s been damaged in the past, and you told me before, before this recording that your knee had been severely damaged.
Rowena: Yes, it had. Yes, it had. Yeah.
Clint: And we know that the inflammation goes to where the . . .
Rowena: Weak spot is.
Clint: So, my knee, also, I’d torn an anterior cruciate ligament the same week I’d gotten diagnosed with RA, and broke up with a girlfriend that week. So that was a good week.
Rowena: Interesting. You were stressed.
Clint: Yeah. And, so, I couldn’t shift it from the knee, even though every other joint was complying. So, I had a cortisone shot in the left knee and that has fixed the knee. Because, it seems to get trapped in there. It seems to get into a vicious cycle where it just can’t escape. Get back into the bloodstream and get eliminated from the body. The inflammation.
Rowena: Yeah. It’s interesting because that actually really helped me, as well. The swelling went down, and it didn’t flare back up again. I, the first one it didn’t, it swelled down and then came up again. But that second one.
Rowena: But it had already started to come down, anyway, by then, from everything else I was doing, I think. And then that last one, just jabbed it, I think.
Clint: Just jabbed it.
Rowena: And, then I just supported it with adrenals. Because, that’s the thing with the cortisone, it can really affect your adrenals. Then, I just went, “Okay, get all the herbs in for adrenals.” Licorice is a really great one for the adrenals, to support. And then, again, that’s going to support the stress, anyway. But, yeah, so I did that, as well.
Clint: All right. Well, we’ve covered a ton here.
Clint: We haven’t really even touched upon the . . .
Rowena: The Bikram heart of it! My God! I’m so sorry!
Clint: No. No. Not at all.
Rowena: My God!
Clint: Because all this stuff, all of this stuff . . .
Rowena: It is all relevant.
Clint: That we’ve covered is very relevant . . .
Clint: And, what we can do is, it means that the subsequent couple of recordings, that we’ve already covered a lot of ground. So, all of this has set up a wonderful overview of what you’ve been through.
Clint: Now, some people who aren’t familiar with Bikram yoga may have listened to one of the first things you said, which was, “I went to Bikram yoga, and after a month I’d gotten rid of all the inflammation in my knee,” as complete hogwash. All right? Because no one appreciates how incredibly powerful Bikram yoga is.
Clint: And I’m coming at this from first-hand experience. You and I have only met today. We’ve spoken to each other once on the phone prior to this. That was a very interesting call, because I told you on that call that I’ve done nearly 700 classes of Bikram yoga. What I didn’t tell you, is that I pretty much hated, and still hate, every single. . .
Rowena: Really? Because I love it!
Clint: Okay. Now, the, one of the reasons that I hated it so much is because of all the physical limitations that I have because of the joint damage that’s been done. Now, when I was highly inflamed, just stepping into class, for me, just walking into the class was a challenge.
Rowena: Yeah. Yeah.
Clint: So, anything standing on one leg was, basically impossible. Now, the first class I did, I was at the back of the room and the teacher walked past. He looked at what was going on with my body and he just, his name was Myles . . .
Rowena: Yeah. I know Myles!
Clint: He teaches at Bondi Junction.
Rowena: Yeah, I know Myles.
Clint: You know Myles?
Rowena: He goes on staff for his teacher training. He likes to work on the teacher training stuff.
Clint: Fantastic. Okay. Okay. Okay.
Rowena: Yeah. I know Myles.
Clint: So, he put his hand on my lower back and said, “You need to come every day.”
Clint: And that has never left my mind.
Rowena: Yeah. Proud of him.
Clint: He doesn’t even remember that he told me that.
Clint: But, I want to share just the absolute power and transformative effects that Bikram has, and I just want to really, really pack this on . . .
Clint: Because if someone’s listening right now and wondering whether or not they should do it, I want, within the next 20 minutes, then to possibly even take a vacation to a place that has Bikram yoga nearby, if they haven’t got one already nearby, just to spend a few weeks to do it.
Clint: Because it can be so massively powerful for RA.
Rowena: Yeah. Yeah.
Clint: So, tell us, why should people choose Bikram over any other form of exercise?
Rowena: Well, number one, you do have that heat. And the heat’s going to help you with your mobility. I know we spoke about this briefly in the car, Clint. It was that, we were taught, I was taught that I had to put ice on my knee and not move. And that was the worst thing I could do. If, when I did that, it would freeze up, almost like an ice block, and it wouldn’t move. And it wouldn’t bend. So, when you’re in that heated room it gives you the pliability for the joint to move, it starts to lubricate. It starts to really open up the joint. Gosh, there’s so many amazing things. And, also, of course, you’re getting rid of fluid. You’re getting rid of inflammation. So the sweating is helping with that. So, you’re not just working with just inflammation around the body, you’re working through the inflammation in the liver, you’re working inflammation, you’re working to help heal the colon. The body works, the yoga works through compression and extension. So, if you think of a garden hose, and you squeeze the hose, you’ve got a full-on ball, it’s not allowing anything through. And this is how the yoga works. So, you hold the posture, and it’s stopping the blood, say to the colon, if you’re doing what’s called wind removing pose. You’re stopping that blood from even getting around the area. So, it’s building and building and building. And, just like if you release the garden hose, it goes shooting out so fast. That’s what happens and it starts clearing in the area. It starts providing oxygen, nutrition, hemoglobin. It starts clearing toxins and metabolic wastes and calcification, and everything out of that area. And then, of course, the sweat. And also, you’ve got the stress relief, as well.
Clint: Because there is those couple of, not a couple of, throughout the class there are, there are short periods where, now what’s – I’ve forgotten, I should know. Seven hundred times and I still can’t remember because of the Indian words . . .
Rowena: That’s all right. Yeah, that’s okay.
Clint: But, when you lie in savasana, right?
Rowena: Yeah. Savasana. Dead body pose.
Clint: So, savasana allows you to relax.
Rowena: Yeah. Yeah.
Rowena: So, it’s a natural irrigation of the circulatory system, with the help of the respiratory system, if you want the technical term.
Rowena: So, that’s what’s happening? And also, you’re getting more oxygen to the body. And oxygen’s massive for healing the cells. The cells can’t thrive unless they’ve got oxygen. All this is part of it. You could just go on all day. Seriously. The pain goes away.
Clint: Let me throw at you, just because, sometimes when you’re, when you’re so close to it you forget a lot of the . . . Or it’s hard to step away from it.
Clint: But, from an outsider’s point of view, not a teacher’s point of view a couple of notes that I’ve made in the past, is that, one of the things that helped me a lot is the strengthening of the weak and fragile ligaments and tendons around the joints.
Rowena: Yes. And the muscle dystrophy. Because I had two legs that were different sizes, so it helped build the other leg up.
Clint: That’s it.
Rowena: Yeah. So, all that, as well.
Rowena: Yeah. All these things you forget, kind of.
Clint: You forget. And also, I’ve found that, that it tends to re-align some joints that have been – for instance, my elbows. There’s so much emphasis within Bikram yoga about keeping, locking your elbows in all those different postures. And, throughout your general day, we just don’t walk around with locked elbows.
Clint: That just doesn’t happen.
Rowena: No. No. No.
Clint: But, when we lock our elbows, we gauge the tightness of the triceps and through the elbows.
Clint: And, it was instrumental in helping me, because my joints were rotating at the joint.
Rowena: Yeah. Well, it’s funny you say that, because until you mentioned that I went, “My God, yes!” Because that’s one of the biggest things that I wrote about in my blog, when I wrote a post about when I was healing from arthritis again, from that flare-up, was that I actually had to give – my knee had completely deformed. The first time I had arthritis that hadn’t happened. But this time, because it had been eight months, and that swelling was so, so large, I guess, the knee was completely deformed in. And then I’ve got photos after. Because I took photos every week, because, you do. You kind of get that desperate, “Is it healing? Is it healing?” And so, I took photos every week, and you can completely see the deformity has changed shape and gone back, and it’s normal now. My knee’s completely normal, in terms of, if you look at the deformity it was just outside. So, yeah. Gosh.
Clint: I think we have a similar personality type, because I took videos of myself and a lot of my listeners and people within our forum are very familiar with what my knee used to look like. And then I filmed myself running for the first time after I was able to get that knee back to normal.
Clint: And, documenting it like that. They say that what you measure improves and what you measure and share improves exponentially. Okay.
Clint: So, I would always document my progress with my pain levels. I would record it. Both, by recording as a number out of 10, my pain levels. Plus, I had my C-reactive protein that I was measuring every month.
Clint: And then, I was also filming things and stuff. And then I would share that with, not just my wife, Melissa but my Dad would say, “How’s your C-reactive protein this month? What is it this month?”
Clint: And, because you’re accountable to people you tend to want to deliver.
Rowena: Yeah. Yeah. That’s great, wow.
Clint: That was one of the strategies that I employed. So, now, tell us a little bit more. What goes on in a Bikram class? For total newbies.
Clint: What should they expect?
Rowena: Expect to suffer! But, you’re not going to suffer nearly than what you’re already suffering. Trust me. The suffering takes the pain away from your life, forever. Yeah. Look, it’s 26 postures, two breathing exercises, so you come in. I came in again when I had arthritis, and I could barely walk. I couldn’t even bend my knee properly. I remember my first camel pose, it reaches a posture where you’re sort of bending on your knees, and you’ve got to bring your hands in the back, and go back and grab your feet. And, my left leg was barely even bending in, but, what happens is just, day by day, it starts to shift and starts to change. So, you do 26 postures, two breathing exercises. You do do the same postures every day, which is fantastic, because you can start to monitor your progress, and you can really see it. You might find that, like me, you couldn’t bend the knee and all of a sudden, I’m able to completely do the posture, two months later I was able to completely get into the posture. It is, obviously, in a heated room. So, do expect to sweat a lot. Do expect to feel extremely uncomfortable. Do expect to be challenged in every way, mentally, physically, and emotionally. But, you know what? That’s part of it.
If you look at the Yogic and even the Buddhist philosophy, their philosophies are based on transcending suffering. So, what are we doing? We’re transcending our suffering of our lives through the class. We learn to be able to deal with pain better. We learn to be able to deal with stress of it. We learn to cope with what we’ve actually got right now. We’re working towards changing and getting healthy, but it learns to help us accept. “Okay, this is where I am right now.” And, it’s taking a whole different perspective on it, and I know, I’ve found that I felt grateful every day. I’ve found that, okay, my pain resistance through that hour and a half, when I took yoga, the pain was lower in that time. I was so focused on the postures. There was a particular posture that I did, as well, in my second time round, because we have an advanced series, so, obviously, I was doing a bit extra for me. But, there was one particular posture that I was doing with the rotation of the knee that really got the mobility back into my knee. And I swear that’s what helped the deformity.
Clint: Is that something you could share with beginners or is it something that’s dangerous to do?
Rowena: I don’t think. It’s not a very dangerous posture. It’s just a basic rotation and it works the hip, knee, and the ankle. And, honestly, in the beginning, I was, literally, moving. I could swear that – the circle’s like almost a meter long in the actual class. But, when I had the flare-up, I was lucky to move it was just basically, this tiny little circling. Holding my knee up and just tiny circling. Maybe we can, somehow do blog video or something.
Clint: Yeah, please. Or even if you’re able to do a short filming of it in the next couple of days.
Rowena: Yes. Let’s do that.
Clint: And if you could send me the video and I can upload it for the folks so they can see that beneath the show notes.
Clint: Okay. Now, what if someone’s starting to come around? Because, generally, if there was one thing that someone with RA asked me and said, “What should I do more of?” Or, “What is it that can help me? Can you give me one tip?” Almost always I can say, “You’re not exercising enough.” Across the board. I encourage people to think like they are training to become an athlete. An athlete. Now, you, from my perspective, are an extraordinary athlete. To do a couple of hours of yoga every single day, at the highest level in this country, you’re an extreme athlete. And it takes that kind of mentality. You don’t have to actually create an athlete body, like you have.
Rowena: No. No. It’s not about that.
Clint: You don’t have to create an athlete ability. But if you have an athlete mind-set . . .
Rowena: Yeah, we’re onto it.
Clint: We’re onto it. Okay. Because, when people, if, had to been able to see me in my first class . . .
Rowena: And me.
Clint: Right. Okay. And, now look at where we are.
Clint: We have a lot in common.
Rowena: Yeah. Now I can bring my foot under my chin.
Rowena: Yeah. And you’re aspiring to, correct?
Clint: Yeah. I shouldn’t, I don’t mean I have the range of motion.
Rowena: It’s not about that, though, anyway.
Clint: No, but we have the same attitude towards tons and tons of exercise.
Rowena: Yeah. Yeah. Lots and lots.
Clint: If someone’s sitting at home and they’re think, “I don’t know if I should go and do this, because I have, say a lot of inflammation,” what would you say? Someone’s really got a lot of inflammation, should they go ahead?
Rowena: Yes! A little bit goes a long way. It’s funny. Bikram, when he teaches, he talks a lot about, number one, there’s two things I’m going to mention. The first one is, try the right way. Well, there’s three things I’m going to mention. One is, try the right way. He says, he has this little saying, 1% correct is 100% correct, 99% correct is 100% wrong. So, what he is basically saying is, it’s that, you come in and you do a little bit. You might not be able to put your foot under the chin like I can now. You might not be able to do that. You might not be able to even get your legs in complete alignment yet. But the fact is you come in with that mind-set, and the intention, because everything is intention, you set the intention to try it. To give your all. To not let your mind come with the excuses, because remember, that’s what the mind does to keep you stuck, and, so it’s about how badly do you want to heal? If you really, really, really want to heal, and sometimes that’s what happens, is that we don’t actually want to heal. Or, sometimes that injury or our illness becomes a crutch. And, and that’s not to, sort of, say, put that victimhood onto someone, and make them feel bad about themselves. But that’s the mind-set of human beings. Sometimes we don’t like taking responsibility for our lives. Sometimes if we’re stuck, maybe you’re a bit scared of moving forward in your life. Maybe you’re afraid of having the things you really want. We sabotage ourselves in so many different ways.
So, that’s also something to have a look at, if there is a bit of resistance. Whenever there is resistance in our lives it’s time to look at. So, come in and you give it a try. The other thing that Bikram always says is the object of the yoga is not the posture, it’s you. So, if you understand that, it’s not about you being this full yogi. And that’s the biggest misconception people have about yoga. That, “I’ve got to be flexible,” and “I’ve got to be this,” and “I’ve got to be that.” That’s actually got nothing to do with it. Yoga is about self-realization. Yoga is about putting you into position where you’re spiritually healthy, mentally healthy, physically healthy, and emotionally healthy. You’ve got the whole package there. It’s a holistic package. And, in order to do that, we have to challenge our body. We have to push our body. We have to move our body. We have to get oxygen through, etc., etc. So, it’s not about the posture. It’s about how it’s healing your body. And, by you just coming in and barely feeling like you’re doing anything, you are doing a hell of a lot. You’re starting to get circulation through the body. You’re starting to get toxins out of the body. You’re stating to reduce the inflammation. You’re starting to do a lot of things, even if you feel like you’re doing nothing. So, you start small, and you will see change. And that’s the beautiful thing, you start to feel empowered. You start to feel so excited because, “My God, I couldn’t even bend my knees today and today, I’m able to bend my knee.” And “Now, I’m able to straighten my leg.”
From someone that had practiced for 11 years, and then become crippled again, to have that yoga and to be able to have done that again every day, every day, every day, every day, every day, every day, while I was going back through that healing. It was almost like I was a beginner all over again. And every movement was just this joy inside, like “My God, I’m starting to get, I’m not going to be crippled, I’m not going to be crippled.” “This is healing me, this is healing me.” And that’s how you feel. That is how you feel every day when you just do that little bit, that little bit, that little bit. You’ll see the results. And, obviously, there’s two people in the room that can vouch for it. I’ve also had students all over the world who’ve been riddled with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. I had a student in Brisbane, even, and she said she couldn’t believe how much it just helped her every day. And she had her hand on the wall, and we had her doing stuff on the wall. Your teachers will work with you and make sure that if we have to modify some postures, we will. Sometimes we had students with a chair, and they’d bring the chair in, and, we’d do whatever we could. So, yeah.
Clint: Well, I think that is absolutely inspirational stuff. So, I was getting goose bumps there when you’re on a roll. And I use the phrase “One percent a day.” If you can improve one percent every day. It’s not going to take too long.
Rowena: That’s a hell of a lot.
Clint: You think about a compound interest. If your money went up 1% a day think of how rich you’d be.
Clint: So, if you can do 1% more range of motion a day, 1% more each day is all you need to do. So, I’m going to read out a couple of – I created a blog about this, it would have been two years ago on one of my websites. And I’ve just got a couple of comments here, people on Facebook, comments underneath. One lady, called Melina, said, “I started with Bikram a few months ago, and my life is changing.” These are all people with rheumatoid arthritis. Another, Verity, whose, also in our community forum, she said, “A combination of the Paddison Program and Bikram yoga, I’ve been able to get to a level of zero out of 10 pain.”
Rowena: Wow, that’s amazing.
Clint: That is phenomenal.
Rowena: I wonder what her pain was before? But, it doesn’t matter, it’s zero.
Clint: Right. That’s right.
Rowena: It’s nil! It doesn’t matter if it’s five or ten or what. It’s nil!
Clint: So, Lisa says, “I also have rheumatoid arthritis and feel Bikram yoga has helped.” And then, Maria says, “I call myself an RA survivor, thanks to Bikram.”
Rowena: Wow. Yeah.
Clint: All right. And, that’s all I had time for, to highlight before you walked in. But, there are more under there that I’ve just ill-prepared to go through now and do. But, let me just ask you another question. What if someone is doing a different form of yoga and they think, “I’ll just stick with that”?
Rowena: Okay. That’s a good question. I don’t know what form you’re doing, obviously. And there’s so many different forms out there. The thing that I love about Bikram is that it’s actually pure Hatha. And, if you understand Hatha, Hatha yoga is basically the asana. Asana, which is posture, means posture done in stillness. So, what we’re doing in the yoga is we’re holding a posture in stillness. And that’s where that real therapy comes into play. I mentioned it before, where we compressing, extending. So, you’re getting this complete therapy, whereas, a lot of other yoga, I’m not knocking at all, yoga is yoga and if people are doing it and moving their bodies, is fantastic. But, my observation is that people get the endorphins and they feel really great doing other yoga. But it’s that therapy, when you’re doing the flow and all that, you’re not necessarily always getting that stop-hold therapy, which is what the Bikram will really give you. Something else I was just about to say and it’s just leaked out of my head.
Clint: Well, I want to add to that, a point, or reinforce something you said before, for me.
Clint: Why Bikram? Above everything else?
Clint: One of the reasons is, it’s the same thing every time.
Rowena: Yeah. Well, that’s another aspect.
Clint: That’s so helpful when you have RA because when you’re healing the circulating immune complexes or the problems with the inflammation in the body, it moves around in most people.
Rowena: Yeah. Yeah.
Clint: So, what I was finding was that when my knee was getting better sometimes, then my fingers would be bad.
Rowena: Right. Yeah.
Clint: Then my fingers would be fine and my elbow’s flaring up. And so, as a result, doing Bikram meant that I was able to, just exactly to echo your words, see how I was going from day to day to day. Whereas, when I would choose a different sort of yoga, each day we’d have a different teacher and, therefore, a different class. Or even the same teacher would teach a different class, and I couldn’t tell how I was going. All I could see was that I was hopeless and everything seemed to hurt. And I couldn’t compare it day to day. The same thing every day is one of its greatest benefits.
Rowena: Yeah. And, can I add to that, too, which it’s just reminded me, we do have an advanced class of Bikram, but it’s really not open, it’s a beginning yoga series, and I think that’s a really valuable point to put in. Because, like you just said, you went to yoga and you felt like you were useless, and you couldn’t do anything, and blah, blah, blah. This is a beginning yoga series and, yeah, it has been designed for the general population, for everybody to be able to do some of. And, so you’re not doing hard-core stuff. And, yeah, okay, when you’ve got rheumatoid arthritis it’s going to be hard. But, it’s not stuff where you’re jerking your body around and trying to go upside down, and do all these things. It’s basic postures that are static, where you can go to the depth that you’re able to go to. And it’s beginning yoga series. I think that’s a really important thing for people, especially if there’s a bit of fear.
I know that I was very afraid in my first class of bending my knee. Because I remember one time, when I had a flare-up, in the first time I’d had it, when I bent my knee it had gotten worse. And I think that’s because I’d been using all the ice and it was frozen, it was stiff, and then I bent my knee and then it felt like it just got worse. So, I was very petrified. I remember thinking, “My God, I have to bend my knees. My God. My God. My God.” And then over time, because of that heat, I was able to bend them a lot easier and everything like that. So, I think, for a lot of people, there’s fear about starting something new. “Is this going to work?” “Am I going to waste my money?” All that stuff that comes under that umbrella of fear. Yeah. It is a beginning yoga class. You’ve got postures every set, same postures every day.
Rowena: You can monitor your practice.
Clint: And all the other benefits that you mentioned before.
Rowena: And, yeah. And all the other benefits that we’ve been mentioning.
Clint: I think that, also, you mentioned the cost of it. Now, I’ve been to about 10 different yoga studies around the world, only a couple internationally. Mostly here in Australia. And I’ve done them while I was traveling sometimes, because, quite frankly, Bikram, for me was my non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. It was my painkiller each day. Which gave me relief naturally rather than taking drugs that had the negative impact on my gut health. Which meant one step forward, two steps back. And, so, I’ve attended about 10 different studies around the world. I actually lost my train of thought.
Rowena: You were talking about the cost.
Clint: The cost? Thank you. The cost, generally, all the studios offer about, sort of, a small amount of money, like $20 for the first 30 days or something.
Rowena: Yeah. Yeah. Some are $20 for 10 days, and some are $35 for a month. So, it’s a really good way of giving it a go. You’re not expending too much money. It’s not like you have to buy a year’s package, or a three-month package. Because a lot of other studies you do, you have to buy a 10 series, which is a good couple of hundred dollars. So, yeah, it gives you a chance to give it a good go. And you will see results. I guarantee.
Clint: I guarantee.
Rowena: I just know. I just know.
Clint: Me, too. I’m so confident about it. It’s a no-brainer.
Rowena: There’s no way you’re not. There’s no way you’re not going to see some level of result.
Rowena: Mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, every single way.
Clint: The clients that I see, who have had best results have, to the larger extent incorporated Bikram yoga alongside dietary, mental and emotional changes. It’s the number one exercise you can do with RA. I have got a couple of questions from some people in our forum.
Clint: One of them is a lovely lady called Hashida.
Rowena: Hi, Hashida.
Clint: And she asks, her knees are very swollen, both of them. Now, she’s a little bit concerned that maybe going to Bikram could be inflaming them, or are there modifications or anything that she can do to help her swollen knees. Is she still on the right track?
Rowena: I think, definitely, you’re on the right track. You might find that we have to put you in a chair. Or, whoever your teacher is has to put you in a chair, if you’ve got both knees swollen. But, that’s what one of my students was, in Brisbane. She had both knees swollen. They were really badly swollen. And so, we just put her against the wall. There were some postures that she wasn’t able to do, but that’s okay. Because, as your body starts opening up in other areas, then it’s going to lead to that opening up, and then you’ll be able to do other postures, anyway. But, your teachers will work with you. There’s modifications you can do, you can sit on the floor instead of having to stand up. There’s so many things you can do. Even just doing the first breathing exercise and starting to get the oxygen through the body. There’s so many things you might find. Even for me, when I had the flare-up, some of the postures I wasn’t able to do standing. I had to sit on my bed and do them, and I was able to bring my legs around in one of the postures you’ll definitely probably do, and that will finally help you is eagle pose. I find that’s really great, if you’ve got the knees.
Clint: Describe that one to me. Remind me, which one. Is that lying on the stomach, pulling your hands behind?
Rowena: No. That’s one actually where you’re standing.
Clint: I know.
Rowena: You bring the right arm under the left. You pull your arms, and then bring your right leg up over, and you wrap your legs around. But, of course, I couldn’t stand on my leg and do it. So I used to sit on the chair or on my bed in home, and then I do the arms on their own, separately to get the shoulder opening, and the wrists and everything. And then I just bring the leg out myself and bring it around, and grab at the foot and hold it, and sit there, and sit there, and then I’d swap and do the other leg. And then gradually, I was eventually standing, and able to do it again standing. But, yeah, so that’s the thing. There are modifications and you’ll find the swelling will start reducing straight away. I’ve only seen that. I’ve only seen that.
Clint: Okay. That was also my experience. But to got to a point, and that’s where I was talking about, where the one exception for all of my joints was that one knee because of the prior damage to the knee. It seemed to create a little pocket or cave of inflammation that just couldn’t heal but that one jab then got rid of it. So, that was my experience. Now, couple of other questions for you, before we wrap up our Bikram discussion. One is surrounding mind-set. I want your thoughts on the challenge of going there every day. It’s not easy. I, as I said to you, openly, I don’t like it. You’re going to go and take me through the paces in about an hour and a half from now. I’m taking your advanced class and I’m really looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to it from being in your class, not because I’ve ever really enjoyed a class. So how do you motivate yourself to go every day, if you’re in pain, and it just seems all too hard?
Rowena: Well, I guess for, for me, I’ll talk personally, first personally, and then I guess I’ll talk from a teacher’s perspective and, maybe a student’s perspective, from what they’ve told me. I guess, my personal thing was that I wanted to heal. I didn’t want to be crippled for the rest of my life. I knew that I had a way to begin a mission in my life, than to be sitting at home, unable to do anything. I believe that we’re all born for a greater purpose, and I honestly believe that the illnesses and the challenges that we have in our lifetime is for us to be able to step up and then to help others, as a result. That’s my biggest belief. We can turn that disempowerment, which is what we feel when we’re injured and ill. We can turn that and turn our lives around, and imagine the thousands of people that we can inspire. And imagine the thousands of people that we can help. So, I honestly believe that everything that we’ve created, will create or manifest, or whatever in this lifetime, is for that greater good of helping the world. And I believe that we all have that potential.
Clint: So, to give it a greater meaning.
Rowena: So that motivates me. Give it a greater meaning.
Clint: Give it a name, greater meaning. Yeah.
Rowena: Because, if you look at all the amazing greats who have healed from cancer, or even, there’s a girl, Jessica Ainscough, who just passed away. Now, she had cancer, okay, she passed away, but it was seven years later than what they thought. And she has inspired thousands, and thousands, and thousands, and thousands of people to change their lives. I just got goose bumps.
Rowena: So, I just think there’s a greater meaning. The other thing is, again, it’s like, how much do you want to feel good every day? Do you want to feel good? Or do you want to feel horrible? Because there is a choice. And, sometimes I think we don’t think we have a choice. But we have a choice!
Clint: We do.
Rowena: We can choose to feel uncomfortable for 90 minutes in that class, and feel better at the end of it. Because, guaranteed, you’re going to. Even if you hate every second on the way, or you can sit there and feel uncomfortable anyway and not improve.
Clint: I call that having the choice. You’re going to have pain in life, no matter what.
Clint: There’s always pain.
Rowena: That’s right. You can’t avoid it.
Clint: I call it having the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. All right? So that’s a good point, probably for us to wrap up our discussion. So, what we’ve covered, so far, in this, just for the listeners to have a round-up of where we’ve been.
Clint: We started out hearing about your journey. And we learnt that you had terrible eating disorders and that with that was a lot of emotional stress, it led to your first diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. Which you then treated entirely through Bikram yoga. And, within a month you’d eliminated that left knee problem. And then, from there, for nine years, well, we didn’t even get into . . .
Rowena: Well, it was 11 years.
Clint: Eleven years.
Clint: You were symptom-free of rheumatoid. You’ve represented Australia at yoga. Unbelievable. It’s just brilliant. And then, you had another hugely emotional and stressful period.
Rowena: Yeah. Yeah.
Clint: The arthritis came back in a way that you’d never even seen before. And then you really had to go back and become almost, like a student of your own teachings again.
Rowena: Yeah. Yeah.
Clint: And, and it took you a good part of a year to get the knee back.
Rowena: Good eight months.
Clint: How’s your yoga now, compared to what it was before the second serious…?
Rowena: Yeah, I’m not training as much as I was back then, so, I think, “My yoga’s not as good.” But, that’s not what other people think.
Clint: Right. I get it.
Rowena: But, it is in terms of my ability, my mobility is there.
Clint: You’re a 9.95.
Rowena: Nine point nine instead of ten.
Clint: I get it. Fantastic.
Rowena: Yeah. No, no, no. It’s, like, right up there.
Rowena: I’m doing things that I never thought that I’d ever be able to do again. Yeah. And doing postures that . . .
Clint: Yeah, mainly.
Rowena: Say it. It’s there.
Clint: Yeah. You’re, you’re in the top 1% of the country in yoga.
Clint: So, let’s face it. You’re as good as gold.
Rowena: So I’m even hard on myself. But yeah, no. Definitely my ability is back. I’m walking normal. All that’s there.
Clint: You’re as though you’ve never had anything wrong.
Rowena: And I’m a lot more aware. I think this last flare-up really made me so much more aware that if you go back to our old habits or we go through this, we’ve got to just keep supporting ourselves in stress. And we’ve got to support ourselves in our lives, constantly. It’s not like we just fix something and it goes away. And that’s probably the biggest lesson I got from that, was like, “Heck, yeah, Rowena!” You’ve just got to keep supporting. When you’re going through a period of difficulty, then you’ve got to make sure that you’re getting help, and not just leaving it to snowball. Because that’s what happens, I think. We tend to push ourselves a lot. There is that A-type personality a lot with RA sufferers and, yeah, we tend to push ourselves, and be perfectionists, and all that stuff. Not everyone, but that’s some of the research does say that.
Clint: That’s right. That’s right.
Rowena: And that applies to me 100%.
Clint: Yes. Me, too.
Clint: Me, too.
Rowena: But, yeah. My last flare-up, that last flare-up was 2000? It was three years ago, I think, the recovery. So, it’s four years ago that I had the flare-up. Yeah.
Rowena: I’m doing fine since.
Clint: Well, brilliant.
Rowena: With no indication of any more.
Clint: And, we’re going to talk about why you’ll probably remain fine for the rest of your life in the next podcast. Because we’re going to talk about raw foods.
Rowena: We will. Yes.
Clint: Another area that you and I share an incredible overlap. So, I think if you’re listening to this and you’re thinking, “This is interesting. Two people who are symptom-free for long periods of time. Drug free, long periods of time. And both who have done long stints of raw foods and chose Bikram yoga as their exercise of choice, I think there is a little bit of a . . .”
Rowena: There’s something in there.
Clint: Yeah. There’s something in there.
Rowena: There’s something in there.
Clint: There’s something in that.
Clint: So, this is really powerful, what we’ve got to come. And just thank you so much for what you’ve contributed today for people. Because, anyone who’s thinking about doing Bikram yoga and has now finished listening to this entire, long episode, I hope now that you are motivated to go out and give it a go.
Clint: It’s not easy. It’s not a walk in the park.
Clint: This is something that’s tough, but why do it unless it’s going to get you some results. And that’s what Bikram yoga does.
Clint: And, Rowena, thank, I’m proud of you, as an Aussie, too.
Rowena: Thank you.
Clint: You’re a great Australian. Thank you for joining us on this podcast.
Rowena: My pleasure.
Clint: Where can people learn more about you?
Rowena: So, I have a website, www.rowenajayne.com. That’s Jayne, with a Y, I’d like to think I’m not a plain Jane. So, Jayne, with a Y. Also, on Facebook, Rowena Jayne, Real Food Yogi, Instagram rowenajayne_realfoodyogi, all the same. I think Twitter is Real Food Yogi. So, yeah. Real Food Yogi or Rowena Jayne, you’ll find me.
Clint: And, I know this from your site, because I’ve signed up to your mailing list, I notice that you’ve got some great, free information in your e-book that you give away when people join your mailing list. So, jump on, join the mailing list. And, you did mention you’ve got a book. Is that available online?
Rowena: It is online. It’s on my website. On the main channels, Amazon, this, that, there, various bookshops have started to stock it, as well.
Rowena: But, yeah. We’ll talk more about that anyway in the next podcast.
Clint: Congratulations. Let’s talk about that in the next podcast. Thanks, Rowena.
Rowena: Thank you.