YOGA + CHRONIC ILLNESS
Using yoga to create a healthy relationship with your chronic illness and become friends.
I know, this sounds a incredibly odd, and it’s not the message you're used to hearing. When you're diagnosed with a chronic illness, you hear messages like, “You’re going to beat IT,” “You’re stronger than IT,” and, “You’re just going to have to fight IT.”
The IT, your illness, becomes the enemy, the destroyer of your life’s dreams, the one that gets in the way of your happiness... if you allow it to get in the way that is. Most people let their chronic illness ruin their lives and run their lives, but in actual fact working with it and adapting your life makes for a much better transition and getting back to happiness A LOT easier.
The moment you are diagnosed with a chronic illness, you go through the phases of grief, as I've mentioned in a previous post. What if we not only accepted our illness, but embraced it as if it were our friend, our ally?
When you're finally diagnosed, at first you feel a sense of relief because you finally have a name to what's wrong and going on, but then it settles in that you have an illness that will potentially never go away. I went through a phase where I felt sorry for myself, because I didn’t want to accept that I wouldn’t have the same amount of energy that I used to have and would have to live with the side effects of my illness. In a way, I was letting my illness DEFINE me.
It was not until I began to practice yoga again and changed other parts of my lifestyle that my feelings toward my illness began to slowly shift. I found that practicing yoga helped me feel better. I felt energized from my yoga practice and found that a consistent practice helped with the side effects of my illness. Along with the physical shifts, I began to feel a shift in my relationship with my illness — yes, I said RELATIONSHIP because that's what it is. Its like a boyfriend, some days it's good and blissful and you can function in harmony together and the next day your fighting over something stupid you've done, causing pain and discomfort and you have to learn to be respectful and considerate of it (ridiculously right.. who needs more than one boyfriend!).
We subconsciously develop a relationship with our illness. IT becomes this entity in our lives that we more often than not despise, hate, fight against. There was a point in my practice that I decided to make friends with my illness. Yes, I said FRIENDS. I decided that rather than fighting my chronic illness, we would become allies. We would work together to create a more peaceful, balanced, and healthy life together. I decided to be in attuned to my illness. To be aware of the subtle cues in my body, to respond to those cues in a nurturing way and to treat my illness with kindness and compassion to avoid any potential hurt if I choose to ignore them and later pay the price. After all, we are going to have to live together potentially for the rest of our lives.
I have learned in my practice of yoga that resistance creates suffering. Living with anger, resentment, and negative feelings towards anything especially our illness only creates more suffering for ourselves. Through my ability to let go of resistance and by acknowledging my illness as part of me, my illness no longer defines me. Instead, it has become my ally, my FRIEND that will help me be in tune with my physical body and will share my life experiences, through sickness and in health.
Give it a try and let me know how you go love x