Our society seems saturated with beings wanting to call themselves a ‘Yoga Teacher’ and I have now become one of those people. A daunting experience really, such a beautiful career draped in a deep rooted history of centuries long since past mixed with the modern science advancements of today. Every person, young and old has heard of yoga and with our current universal quest for healthy living, few would deny its many apparent benefits. I have joined this guild of those who wish to help others find an inner self-awareness that guides them to an individual whole body wellness.
I suffer from a genetic disorder that has plagued not only my body, but my mind and personality for many years. The debilitating nuisance is something that cannot be described, only lived. It is a chronic pain that no one else can see. Each day, I start with minor positive successes so that I might be able to trick my mind into believing that the negativity dwells has been beaten.
Inhale. Exhale. It’s going to be okay. You are going to be alright. Breathe. This is a mantra that has become an almost daily pre-eye opening occurrence. The beginning of what will be a self negotiation. Let’s take this slow, just wiggle your toes – Can you move your right foot? Just to the edge of the bed, c’mon you can do it. Little by little, I manage each part of my body to the perimeter until I can launch myself into a roll. Sometimes, I land on my feet and the day begins. Other times, I start from the floor and begin a negation all over again. Some days, I don’t make it to the frontier beyond the sheets. I like so many others tormented by chronic pain have had to learn how to adapt to this new life.
How does one define what cannot be seen or describe it to someone who does not know what it is like to suffer from it? The truth is, pain is a personal ordeal that can be experienced by anyone. We all inevitably feel pain at some point, stubbing our toe, the strain of our lower back, that headache that sits just behind your right eye. It’s chronic pain that haunts a person, it changes the way life exists for them. The body that you once knew and trusted is no longer there, so everything becomes dedicated to not feeling that pain.
How does yoga help? So many people ask this question and the scientific world screams there is just not enough data to conclude. Well, I’m not a scientist. I am a walking, talking billboard of proof that yoga helps. Which seems odd to say considering not long ago I was confined to a wheelchair or a hospital bed. How? It starts with a breath. How simple is that? We have to breathe anyways. Obviously, there is more to it than just that, but for a moment – right now, play along- take a few breaths, using only your nose. Breathing in and then let it go. Now, what does it feel like, not just the breath – the air itself? Does it have any texture? Is hot or cold? Can you feel it entering and exiting your nostrils? Can you feel your chest rise and fall as your lungs expand and contract?
For those few seconds that you brought attention to your breathe, the rest world may have faded away. When a person focuses their mind on something other than the pain that they are in, a sense of peace is found. Sure, the pain is still there but it is the process of learning how to extend those seconds of peace and have them turn into minutes and beyond that is yoga.
Yoga is a combination of movement, breath, and meditation which is practiced in order to find an inner acceptance. When you suffer from chronic pain learning to accept yourself and keep your pain at an endurable level, gives you your life back. Yoga can be a fantastic tool to assist you in this and the right teacher can be paramount. Remember that you are important and that as the person suffering you hold the power to decide who you have on your relief team. In my experience a combination of medicine, yoga, meditation and studying breathing techniques is what has been most useful. Before any major physical activity you should be checking with your doctor and a good yoga teacher would want to work within your limitations.
I am so thankful to all of those amazing yoga teachers that have giving me the opportunity to learn who I am as a student and teacher. Chronic pain can make you feel so alone, I send light and love to all who suffer.
Angel is the founder of Provoke Life Inc., and self proclaimed philanthropist, perpetual instigator of thought and imagination. A Pranalife Yoga Certified Instructor, with a passion for helping others. Having been diagnosed with Fibromyagia, Elhers-Danos Syndrome, and dealing with chronic pain for several years now, she has a unique perspective on how sensitive the movement learning experience can be. Her wish is to help others in their quest for well being and relief from pain.