Yoga Helped Manage Fibromyalgia, Mood, Stress, and Chronic Illness
(From YSN Vol. 5, No. 1 – May 2017)
In 1995, my physician could find no physiologic source for the recurrent and variable pains I had experienced for several years. He finally diagnosed the disorder as Fibromyalgia, a newly defined medical disorder. He prescribed yoga for pain management. The weekly classes helped reduce the pain, but it was not until I started my yoga therapist training and my weekly practice increased to daily practice that I experienced a tremendous improvement. My daily practice also elevated my mood and reduced stress.
In July 2016, to my surprise, three days before my 66th birthday, I had a mild stroke!! Three days later, I was told I was recovered and sent home to return to my usual life. BUT – I was unable to remember my yoga routines! Frequently I could not complete words or thoughts. Things were not right! During the assessments and testing, I learned that I had cardiac disease!
Thanks to my training as a yoga therapist, I was able to make connections with yoga therapists to explore yoga as my treatment. Dr. Sarkar assisted with asana and pranayama through his weekly yoga therapy classes. Yogic tools for recovery continued to come to my attention. Dr. Dean Ornish’s Spectrum organized a yogic approach to reverse cardiac disease and chronic illness. My physicians and yoga community were supportive. Over time, I was able to implement various yogic practices as they were understood. My vegan diet started in August was a challenge, but I felt healthier immediately. My daily 30 to 60 minute yoga practice also started in August increased my balance and strength. Daily bastryka pranayama cleared my mind. A November class with Richard Miller stimulated me to daily meditation and lead to general well-being.
Since implementing the broad spectrum of yoga practice, my chronic medical conditions have improved. IBS, which had plagued me since early adulthood, slowly backed away. Fibromyalgia symptoms came under better control. By October, I woke without pain! GERD diminished and medications are rarely needed. Chronic allergic rhinitis diminished. Cholesterol levels became closer to normal. Brain MRIs continued to be stable. Verbal challenges are now fewer. Asana practices are remembered. Friends tell me that I am calmer.
Today, I continue to integrate yoga health practices into my life. Improved physical health, cognition, stamina, mood, cholesterol levels, strength, energy and sense of wellbeing are the gifts of yoga.