I have practiced yoga on and off since being in high school. Back then, I was into the super sweaty vinyasa flow or ashtanga classes; I didn’t know much about breath work or really anything other than the fact that it made me super bendy and gave me a toned midsection.
As time went on I started to learn more about it: the different styles, the different flows and the different combinations of poses, best postures for different moods/days, the importance of savasana, all the health benefits, etc. When really focusing on the practice I found that it helped me manage my anxiety and depression (with I really struggled/struggle with). But life happened! My boyfriend (now ex) moved into my house with his dog (plus my dog) and my dedicated yoga space, and the time I had carved out for it, disappeared. Then I started getting sicker, the boyfriend and I broke up, I had multiple hospital stays, my disease progressed pretty rapidly, and I was basically horizontal/bedridden for a year and a half! Needless to say, yoga took a backseat for me in this time…
After countless lectures from my doctor about needing to move my body, I rolled out that dusty mat and found out just how out of shape I was (LOL)! But seriously, my practice obviously needed to be modified from what I was used to, so I spent some time researching yoga for people with chronic pain/chronic illness and through my research found yin yoga and daily meditation was the best fit for me at that point. And just like that I had found my way back to my mat.
Yin yoga is amazing for my fibromyalgia, because it is a slow paced style with long held poses meant to stretch the connective tissue and lots of options for props and modifications. The long held poses actually helped me tune in to the sensations of my body and focus on breathing into those tight and sore areas. There were, and still are, days where my home yoga practice is full of lots of moans and groans. Meditation also helped me to tune in to what’s happening in my body: which areas are tight, where I’m holding tension, what’s actually in pain. A lot of times I have added pain brought on by my body being so tense from the actual pain, so when I meditate I can actually relieve that tension – and, with it, some of the pain I feel!
Both practices have transformed me and done wonders for my pain, and my relationship to my pain and to my lupus. They have taught me to work with the ebbs and flows of my life rather than fighting against them. Lupus brought me back to my mat…it gave me a deeper understanding of what yoga is and what it can do for me. For all the damage Lupus has done in my life, it has brought me such beautiful life lessons – it has deepened my relationships with the people in my life, with God, and with myself..
While I can’t say that yoga has been this true constant in my day to day life, no matter how long I stay away – I always find my way back to my mat. And no matter where I’m at in my life, I am able to adapt my practice to what my needs are in that moment. I am constantly finding new benefits of a consistent yoga practice for my mind body and soul.