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It is said that we all have a story behind our passion for yoga. I certainly have a long story behind mine!

My name is JD Ohlson, and I first started doing Bikram Yoga in August of 2006. This is after a friend from childhood relentlessly pestered and finally guilt-tripped me into the Hot Room. I hated him for every second of it, but I became hooked. After my first class I instantly started a 30 day challenge which ended 70 days later! I lost around 50 pounds, felt great, so I was certain that I was finally on my way to a healthy life. So happy was I, that it was only natural for me and the boys to go out and celebrate!


Fast forward about 10 years to July 4th 2016, and that celebration came to a grinding halt. I previously weighed over 350 pounds, feeling hopeless, an alcoholic, depressed and dangerously diabetic. I also suffered 3rd degree burns on the bottoms of both of my feet. Because of my uncontrolled diabetes and resulting poor physical condition and circulation, initially I wasn’t a candidate for skin grafts and that’s when amputation was discussed.

When the first round of grafting didn’t take, amputation was a real possibility. So after a second and successful round of skin grafts took, 28 nights spent recouping in the burn ward at Massachusetts General Hospital, I knew instantly that a huge life change would be necessary, if I were to repair and keep my feet. On August 16th, 2016, when I finally got the okay for physical therapy, I went back to Bikram Yoga. I couldn’t even stand – so Diane Ducharme Gardner at Yoga for You in Dedham, Massachusetts, started me off doing the standing series in a chair! I started a regular 5 a week practice and saw results almost every day.


In the months that followed I continued to see huge improvements in my strength, balance and overall physical and mental health. I stayed sober, got my diabetes under control and continually lost weight. Eventually I was able to come off all of my diabetes and high blood pressure medications, was able to walk without the use of canes, continued to stay sober, and had lost over 150 pounds (10.7 Stones/68 kg)! 

Almost 3 years later I attended the Spring 2019 Bikram Yoga Teacher Training Course in Murcia, Spain. The 9 week intensive course was the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life. So despite the injuries to my feet, and injuries to my hip-back-knee and a reconstructed shoulder which was all the result of a misspent lifetime of Football injuries, car and motorcycle accidents, bar-fights and drunken tumbles – not only did I graduate, but was presented with the “English Bulldog Determination Award”.


“Never too old, never too bad, never too late, never too sick to start from scratch once again.”

And that is what I want to share with the world. If this fat, old, drunk and broken biker can find healing in the hot room, surely anyone else can too. Bikram yoga will help you. It will heal you. It changed my life and makes me happy and it will do the same for you. Ask me why!