Unfortunately for many chronic illness warriors, there is a negative opinion towards yoga and it’s benefits because they have heard time and time again how yoga will “cure” their chronic illness. Today, I want to re-frame our mindset towards yoga by explaining how it has helped me mentally and physically throughout the years.
I am not here to try to persuade you that yoga will cure your disease or that it will make everything go away. Rather, I want to try to explain the benefits that I have seen throughout the past 10 years of my practicing yoga.
Yes, you read that right, I have been practicing yoga for 10 years, meaning I started when I was 12 years old. My mom was really into yoga and once I was diagnosed with Crohn’s I started taking gentle kids yoga classes to move my body in a loving way and aid in my healing process.
From that time, I have gone through phases with my yoga practice, as you do with any activity. But, for the most part I have stayed fairly consistent with the practice and it has really helped me majorly with my Crohn’s symptoms and mild depression. So, today I want to highlight with you all the 3 main reasons I practice yoga and how it has helped me throughout my journey.
1. Aid in Digestive Health
Just like any form of exercise, when you move your body it gets your organs moving as well. But, uniquely with yoga, there are certain poses that really aid in digestion. Therefore, doing poses like reclined twist, wind relieving pose, cat cow, and many others will help to stimulate the digestive system.
This was particularly beneficial in the months leading up to my bowel resection surgery. This is because I had a narrowing in my intestines which made it difficult to digest foods. Therefore, I did yoga every day, sometimes multiple times a day, to help with digestion and to reduce the stomach distention.
These following practices are particularly beneficial for digestion:
2. Aid with Muscle and Joint Pain
There are many different forms of yoga, some more rigorous than others. Some provide a really deep stretch which is great for any type of muscle or joint pain. It is proven that moving your body is very important for people with joint pain or arthritis because it stops you from getting stiff.
Therefore, even practicing some slow stretching yoga everyday can have major impacts on your joint and muscle health. I encourage everyone to spend 5 minutes in the morning and night to do some light stretching. Overall, this will really make a difference in your alignment and stiffness in your body.
3. Sooth Anxiety and Depression
In the time leading up to my surgery I had mild depression because of the circumstances and the cards I was being dealt with my Crohn’s disease. Because of this, I went on a mild depression and anxiety medication, which helped quite a bit. Additionally, I used yoga as a tool to help me relax and get out of my head.
By synchronizing your movement with the breath, it is a great way to get out of your head, tap into your body and be present. I personally love Yoga with Adriene and her style of teaching because she focuses on yoga for both your physical AND mental health. If you are new to yoga, I highly suggest you try out her free youtube classes that are available for all levels of yogis. In general, yoga was a great tool for me to use when I was struggling to stay positive and love my body.
Overall, I hope that this post gave you some inspiration to rethink yoga and its benefits. Whether you take it on full force or incorporate a class here and there, I think that it has major benefits for anyone.
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Your trusty, gutsy gal,