My Journey w/ Chronic Pain & Yoga

Posted on April 4, 2017

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In 2007, I was diagnosed with spondylitis and eventually spondylosis. I was told my spine was slowly deteriorating. I tried painkillers, physiotherapy, acupressure and a bunch of other things. Nothing brought results. Nothing brought relief. I was in pain and sad constantly.

I wish I could tell you that I started doing yoga and now I’m completely fine and do fancy headstands. In reality, I still struggle with pain from time to time. If I’m not mindful, I get injured and it puts me out for few months…yes…months…not days. I have been frustrated and sad and anxious. I have gone to doctors and naturopaths and homeopaths and osteopaths and physiotherapists, and I’ve cried out of helplessness. I’ve cried because I couldn’t catch a break. The one thing that has consistently only supported me has been Yoga.

Here are all the ways in which Yoga has helped me:

  1. IMG-20170305-WA0003

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    Yoga meets me where I am, where my body’s at. If I feel fit, I can push into a more advanced version of a pose; if I’m tired or injured, I can go into an easier version.

  2. I can use blocks and bands for support or extension.
  3. I can simply show up and do what I can.
  4. My body is what it is TODAY. I work with what I have NOW.
  5. I feel disciplined. I feel purposeful.
  6. I feel loved. I feel loved by myself.
  7. I feel proud that I showed up.
  8. I’ve learned to be gentle with myself, to laugh when I fall out of poses and smile when I’m desperate to get out of a pose.
  9. I’ve learned to observe myself — what is making me struggle and what is making me rejoice.
  10. My anxiety and panic attacks are under control. My ability to cope with stress is higher.
  11. I have realistic expectations of myself — my body and mind.
  12. I have learned the importance of resting myself. I do have aches and pain — I have them right now. Yet, I can’t wait to land up on my mat again.
  13. It has made me want to drop out of the rat race. I compare myself only to ME.
  14. I feel the need for silence. I take long breaks from social media. I am off Facebook, which used to my biggest source of anxiety.
  15. I have stopped needing the approval of others.
  16. I have learned to forgive — myself and others.
  17. I sleep better.
  18. I have learned to take and receive space.
  19. I have learned the balance between pushing myself and taking it easy.
  20. I cherish my progress.
  21. I focus on things that I am doing right and that are getting better.
  22. I look at the big picture, but take small steps in the immediate time line to get there.
  23. I have realized that no one is looking at me in class.
  24. I have learned that it takes courage and strength to slow down.
  25. Concentrating on my breath brings peace, a sense of belief, trust and relaxation.

Everything in the post above is almost like a metaphor for life. Everything in life is transient and impermanent. We gotta work with what we have TODAY. We can take steps for growth and development, but there are no guarantees. Looking inward for peace and accepting oneself help developing stronger self-esteem. Reducing noise from our lives – chatter, distractions, comparisons, competition – will aid in getting stronger.

I began Yoga to save my back, but it is saving ME – all of me!

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Posted in: introspection