When Baltimore native Griffin Peddicord was in middle school, he was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. The diagnosis came after a long search for the cause of his pain.
“My leg would barely bend, and my knee hurt terribly. I was often driven to tears,” he says.
“The doctor would keep saying to take it easy (and) everything else would be fine. But it was never fine. The pain was always there,” he says. “I had become comfortable with the idea that I’d always be living with the pain.”
Peddicord’s pain was so intense that he was forced to drop out of many of his high school activities.
Demos with Griffin Peddicord
Griffin Peddicord and local Bikram yogi Katherine Kramer will demonstrate some Bikram postures (asanas) at the following times in Lawrence:
May 19: 2:30 p.m., Central Junior High School
May 20: 11:30 a.m., Free State High School
May 20: Beginner yoga class, 5:30 p.m., Bikram Studio, 711 W. 23rd St.
May 21: Beginner yoga class, 11 a.m., Bikram Studio
“My knees would swell up and would require painful draining. There were countless MRIs, cortisone shots and NSAIDS,” he says.
But Peddicord enjoyed being physically active, so a friend recommended a different kind of workout to him: Bikram yoga. Bikram yoga is a 90-minute practice which consists of two breathing exercises, or “prarayama,” and 26 postures, “asanas,” and it was brought to the United States by Bikram Choudhury, who learned it from his teacher in Calcutta, India. The 26 postures have been designed to work every organ and part of the body.
The aspect of Bikram yoga that causes a lot of conversation (and consternation) to those who practice it is where the practice takes place: in a room that is heated to 105 degrees.
The high temperature is necessary, according to the site BikramYoga.com, because “Yoga changes the construction of the body from the inside out ... before you change it, you have to heat it up to soften it, because a warm body is a flexible body.”
Attending his first class changed Peddicord’s life and has had a lasting impact, although he admits to being terrified during his first class.
“There were women in their sixties who were rocking it out,” he says, adding that he felt totally out of shape.
Despite his first reaction, Peddicord kept returning to class.
“I started Bikram yoga the day President Obama took office: January 20, 2009,” says Peddicord, adding that he has not missed a day since.
Perhaps his dedication to his practice relates to the benefits he has received from it. Today, at age 18, he is off of all of his pain medication.
“All of my symptoms went away within three weeks of starting Bikram,” he says.
Most people would probably be content spending ninety minutes a day on the practice, but Peddicord took his devotion to a new level when he became a Bikram instructor while still in high school, the youngest person to ever become a teacher. In addition, he was encouraged to enter the Bikram competition.
He sailed through the regional and national competition, and last June he became the International Bikram Yoga Youth Champion.
Perhaps no one is more pleased at Peddicord’s transformation than his mother, Margaret Mills.
“The most we can wish for our child is for them to be happy and healthy. Griffin is both,” she says. “How often do we encounter people who have found their path so early in life? He is the happiest, most at ease I have ever seen him in his life. ... I am also greatly relieved that there is a natural way to not only alleviate, but avoid his pain.
“Bikram yoga has not only changed Griffin’s life, it has given it purpose and direction for a lifetime.”
Peddicord will be in Lawrence from Thursday, May 19th through Saturday, May 21st to share his experiences with Bikram yoga and do several demonstrations. You also can read more about Griffin’s experiences at his website.