How Online Yoga and Pilates Classes Helped Me
In 2020 and 2021, when I was experiencing the worst of my endometriosis pain, I needed an alternative form of movement. My symptoms included a lightly but constantly swollen ankle, tight calves, heel pain, and sciatica.
After seeing my PCP, a foot and ankle doctor, a spine specialist, a chiropractor, and a couple of different physical therapists, nothing changed significantly. Winter was approaching in Vermont, and I knew I needed a way to keep moving.
Finding new ways to move
I have enjoyed yoga over the years and thought it might alleviate some of the tightness and soreness related to my symptoms. But, with the pandemic continuing, and as someone with mast cell activation syndrome, local yoga studios were out.
Beyond social distancing concerns, I knew that many local studios used fragrances like essential oils or incense, and I could not be around scents like that.
Then I discovered someone living in England who provided online yoga classes. I especially appreciated her approach because she incorporates mindfulness techniques with the poses, and she created her program specifically for people who need gentle movements that are calming to the nervous system.
After taking a couple of classes, I felt better. My symptoms hadn’t abated, but I could tell I was less reactive and more limber than before.
I began looking forward to the class each week and incorporated poses that felt the best into a daily stretching routine.
The piece that significantly helped was training my brain not to react to the pain similarly. This helped calm my nervous system overall.
When it came time for surgery in the summer of 2021, the surgeon discovered I had endometriosis growing “dangerously close” to my sacral nerve, and he thought that might be what was causing the issues in my leg, ankle, and heel.
Recovery from that surgery took much longer than any previous surgery. Although I had a good deal of my mobility back, I didn’t have the stamina I did before surgery.
Taking pilates classes at home
Once again, I sought out something I could do from home. This time, I happened upon someone in Australia offering online “bed” pilates classes.
I was drawn to the name immediately and thought this would be something I could do from the bed or the floor and still benefit from movement. Sign me up.
These classes focused more on strength-building movements than the yoga class, which was just what I needed. The classes also helped me gradually build my stamina for things that felt much harder after surgery, like household chores and even going upstairs.
Once I could get back to hiking and walking , I stopped attending the online classes, but I have incorporated things I learned from both into my routine.
If you are in a situation where in-person classes aren’t working out for any reason, see if you can find an online class. There are many options, and you may not even have to seek out someone abroad to find what you’re looking for.
After my experience, I’d recommend looking for classes that describe themselves as gentle, slow, mindful, or ones that can be done on the floor, on a chair, or your bed.
Beware of “beginner” classes because they may still be too difficult. Read the descriptions or reach out to the teacher to find out what types of movements are included in the class.
The ability to do the classes at your own pace, in the comfort of your home, can make the difference between thinking doing yoga is a good idea and signing up for the class and participating.
People with endometriosis may also have bladder issues. Have you experienced overactive bladder (urinary frequency or urgency)?
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