Miami Man Says Bikram Yoga Broke His Back, Forced Him to Smoke Weed to Cope

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"I must start out by admitting that I am on a quest for vengeance." That is not the opening line of The Count of Monte Cristo but the beginning of a recent letter to New Times. With that introduction, we expected a typically Miami tale of murder and malevolence. Instead, we found something even more twisted.

"My nightmare started back in December 2010," wrote 58-year-old Haitian-American Eric Oriol, "when I hurt myself very seriously while practicing a sport called Bikram yoga."

See also: Bikram Yoga Copyright Lawsuit: Miami Weighs In

Long before Oriol became Bikram's enemy number one, he was just another student at Bikram Yoga North Miami. He loved that the classes in 107-degree heat helped him keep off the pounds. ("Us Haitians, if we don't eat beans and rice, it's like we're not having dinner!" he says.) However, he soon began to feel excruciating pain in his lower back.

Oriol was wary of overdoing it. But his instructors encouraged him to continue taking classes -- and paying, he says.

"Instead of suggesting that I go see a doctor, all the instructors in unison told me that I needed to continue with the practice because my pain was mostly mental and that the yoga was going to fix whatever problem I was going through," he claims. "I was even told by some of the best instructors that my lower back pains were a manifestation of the financial issues I was facing in my life."

Oriol kept practicing yoga, but the pain grew exponentially worse. Something had to give. When it did, it was Oriol's fifth lumbar vertebra. One day he was executing a pose called "the bow and arrow" when he heard a crack. Bolts of pain shot up his spine.

"I had to literally crawl on my knees out of the last class," he says. It would be more than a year before VA doctors could finally fix his back. Oriol blames Bikram Yoga North Miami. But owner Kristina Vecsesi says his account is absurd.

"No way, absolutely not," she says of Oriol's claim that instructors pushed him to the breaking point. "It was a total scam."

Scam or not, Vecsesi was nonetheless served with a lawsuit in the middle of a class in March 2012. Oriol initially demanded $5,000 but eventually agreed to drop his suit for $1,500.

"I have a tiny yoga studio," Vecsesi says. "My attorney advised it was probably cheaper to give him a little bit of money just to have him go away."

But Oriol didn't go away. His ordeal -- and his outrage -- were only beginning. He tried joining a Bikram studio in North Miami Beach to shed the pounds he had gained while injured, but manager Jenny Sánchez told him that he was on a list of troublemakers.

("It's a small community, and we share a lot of teachers," Vecsesi says. "I had put the word out to the studio owners that I knew personally because I didn't want them to end up getting scammed by this guy. That's really bad karma.")

Sánchez let Oriol join but soon regretted it. Oriol, who readily admits he began smoking pot to ease his back pain, kept trying to sell T-shirts with images of marijuana leaves to yoga classmates, she says. He also began sending her "rants about racism," including one message that said she was "Paula Deen's younger sister." "It was crazy, crazy stuff," Sánchez says. Oriol claims that an instructor called him "boy" and that Sánchez made no secret of wanting him gone.

Finally, Oriol tried a third studio, in South Beach, but was told he was banned.

"It's a cult," he says of the Bikram community that has cut him off. "Not only are they teaching you how to exercise; they are also playing with your mind. They keep teaching you to love yourself and connect with other people, but it's bullshit. Just look at how they treated me."

"I have to move to another state to keep doing yoga," he says. "Or I just need to stop eating rice and beans."

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17 comments
crism85
crism85

I just don't understand why someone claiming that they broke their back from practicing Bikram Yoga, would want to continue practicing it. I use to go to Bikram and yes they tell you to dig deeper into your poses but at your comfort level. 

eoriol76
eoriol76

What a disdustlingly written story...This reporter should turn in his badge.Where is that mild mannered reporter who always reported for truth and justice.I guess that's what I get for believing in fairy tales and flying fairies.

eoriol76
eoriol76

The reporter forgot to mention that after I injured myself and before I went in for surgery, I presented Kristina a letter stating that I only needed a letter from her saying that in case I died during surgery,my wife would be entitled to the 600.00 dollars I had left on my account.When she refused,that's when I was forced to take her to small claims court and I also went for damages.How could she have allowed the bad person she described in the article to practice yoga in her school for close to 18 months if that person was so bad ? And,if I was selling pot inside Jenny's  studio,why didn't she informed the police and have me arrested ? All the police would have had to do is send an undercover officer inside the school and make a purchase from me.The lessons that I am getting from Bikram instructors are that they are liars,thieves,racists and that they do not practice what they preach.Not even the heat can help sweat the evil from within if that evil is deeply rooted in your DNA

Lee Ette Elle
Lee Ette Elle

Elizabeth Perez Katherine Moreno are you all prepared for this?!

Vanessa Haim
Vanessa Haim

Megan read this lol thought you might enjoy

pornuporium
pornuporium

Rice & Beans & Yoga?

Always a bad idea...

Nancy Casquarelli-Cardona
Nancy Casquarelli-Cardona

For the record, Miami only has more Yoga Instructors per square mile than any other city. I don't think there are yoga students in Miami, just instructors.

Jorge Mederos
Jorge Mederos

Stupid article but damn it was funny...why are people in Miami so crazy?? Must be the water.

eoriol76
eoriol76

@Lee Ette Elle What about you Ms Sara Lee ? Were you prepared for so much confusion at one time ? I am the subject of the story and most of the story also took me by surprise.I took the story to the paper and I came out with shit all over my face.Now,all my friends are calling me to buy marijuana........ Welcome to reality TV in real time.

eoriol76
eoriol76

@Vanessa Haim actually,only a heartless freak would find such a badly written story amusing.I am the victim in the story and the only wrong thing I ever did in this story was being born black and in Haiti.The Haitian mind is so well controlled by the whites down here in Miami that a man like me will always have problems.Down here, you do as you are told or they will turn you into a drug dealing pimp who can not control his appetite for rice and beans.I spoke to the reporter and he promised to correct the story but , I see it has not happened yet.For all the lies they told on me, I am looking for a good attorney if there is one out there.If not, I am heading back to court.

eoriol76
eoriol76

@pornuporium I never ate rice and beans before class.I have too much respect for others to do something as disgusting as that

eoriol76
eoriol76

@Gregg Rory Holland Who are you calling a loser Mr Weiner ? I see you have a shirt on tonight

eoriol76
eoriol76

@Nancy Casquarelli-Cardona What type of bone headed statement is that for an intelligent person to make?When was the last time you had those glasses checked

eoriol76
eoriol76

@Deathray Jones For someone who loves to use the word "creative " , you are sure lacking in creativity Mr Death

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