Bikram Yoga North Shore has a unique challenge in student Michael Fine

GLENVIEW — Wearing only gym shorts in a hot and humid exercise studio, Michael Fine crouches toward the padded floor into a Bikram yoga posture — the single toe stand.

With an arm — his only arm — he grabs his foot, secures it on top of his thigh and continues downward, straining, red-faced and sweating until losing balance, rolling onto his back.

Fine, a Glenview resident, closes his eyes, shakes his head and laughs.

Seven days a week, he practices 26 body postures at Bikram Yoga North Shore, 1926 Waukegan Road, Glenview.

The studio is typically 105 degrees room temperature with 40 percent humidity.

Although he cherishes the workouts, he’s not here for recreation. Fine, the husband of state Rep. Laura Fine, D-17th, suffers from chronic residual limb pain due to an April 10, 2010, auto accident when he lost his left entire arm.

The postures, breathing and meditation give him temporary pain relief, instead of relying on “evil narcotics,” he said.

In the insurance and mortgage business, he was driving to work on Devon Avenue in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood when an oncoming pickup truck for a concrete company crossed the dividing line.

It drove over the hood of Fine’s Volvo convertible, through the windshield and into him.

The speed limit was 40 mph, he said.

“I just remember a red blur. My arm wasn’t cut off like a cleanly severed cut, but ripped from my shoulder,” recalled Fine, an attorney and a former black belt in martial arts.

“Millions of nerves. It gets worse in weather pressure changes.”

He spent six weeks at Advocate Luther General Hospital in Park Ridge, with several follow-up treatments.

Today, Fine describes the pain as if he still had the appendage.

“But it’s encased in ice and getting squeezed in a vice,” Fine said.

He researched his condition, as well as talked to American war veterans whom had lost limbs in battle.

“They were in the same position as me. They said it doesn’t get better.”

He took narcotics — still does to sleep — but he wanted an alternative to drugs.

He also was depressed, having both parents die within two years of the auto wreck. A friend told him about Bikram yoga in 2012, and he joined.

Owner Holly McGregor said Bikram consists of 26 different body postures and two breathing exercises.

“The postures are designed for every body part and the breathing helps lung capacity get more oxygen to the entire body,” McGregor said.

Her sister, Heidi Bernover, also owns the studio.

A beginner’s yoga, Bikram uses room heat to increase flexibility for deeper body stretches “so fresh oxygenated blood reaches deeper into your muscles, tendons and organs to keep your systems healthy,” stated North Shore’s website.

“Michael is an example of how Bikram yoga can make one’s life better. After an accident like Mike’s or something like a knee replacement, pain management is huge to people,” she explained.

“Michael isn’t just surviving, he’s thriving and changing. His rib cage is more open,” she said, while Fine noted his body’s core was stronger and that yoga exercises in general elongated the spine.

“I live in pain 24/7. That’s my life. After this class my pain is less for 3-4 hours,” he said.

During the sessions in the mirrored studio, Fine gains a sense of mental clarity through movement and meditation.

“It’s a battle in there, just you and the mirror. You lose yourself and block out all the noise and baggage,” Fine said. “You focus on yourself and the instructor’s voice.”

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