How Yoga Has Helped My Pain
I know many of you reading the title are probably rolling your eyes right now. I did the same exact thing when I received my endometriosis diagnosis. Each time someone reached out to me asking me to join their fitness team, I cringed. In my mind, fitness was NOT what I needed... and it angered me that people did not understand that.
I watched myself slowly become a victim of my own body and knew I had to do something. Constant visits to the doctor and laying around crying were doing nothing but making me worse. But the pain I was feeling everyday felt as though it was beyond repair. This everyday feeling made me feel weak and useless. I quietly watched others on social media post about exercises that helped them and I secretly wanted to try.
My journey to yoga
I do not really know what clicked, but something inside of me knew I had to try something. For years, I had talked about trying yoga, but the fatigue and pain I was constantly in convinced me not to. Besides, all those bends and ridiculously hard looking moves did not look fun or comfortable. Until one day, the pain became unbearable. Rolled up in a ball crying, pains shot through every limb on my body. "You have to do something", I thought to myself. I decided to take out my dusty yoga mat that had been sitting in the closet for years. I stood there watching my yoga DVD for a while, not moving. The more I watched, the more I realized yoga was so much more than hard moves and bends. In fact, there were many different poses, stretches, and variations.
Since that day, yoga has helped me feel alive again. All though not a cure, yoga has become my go to when I am feeling in pain. Yoga taught me something I never thought I would feel again; how to love myself, take a step back and breathe. Although I am by no means an experienced yoga trainer, I wanted to share with you three yoga poses that help me on my high pain days:
Legs up the wall, or "Viparita Karani"
Period cramps are just about an every day thing for me. They sometimes are so bad they shoot down into my legs. Which is why I love this pose. Viparita Karani is known to calm you and refresh tired legs. It also improves the flow of blood to the pelvic region. To practice this pose, find a soft surface or use your mat, next to a wall. Lay down on your back, facing the wall, and gently walk your feet up the wall. Keep walking your feet until your legs are resting on the wall. Try to get your bottom as close to the wall as you can, to help get the full effect of the stretch. Place your hands by your side or on top of your stomach and breathe in and out. Hold pose for five minutes.
How to modify:
Have a bad back? Place something soft like a pillow or towel under your lower back. This will help relieve any additional strain you may feel. If you need to, you can also place a pillow under your head. If you need to completely take pressure off your lower back and pelvis, use a strap around your thighs and knees to help hold legs up. Remember, if you cannot get your legs rested all the way up against the wall, do not push it. Let them rest as far as you can go.
Garland Pose, or "Malasana"
This is another pose I practice daily. Garland pose is great for pelvic pain and dizzy spells. When you are in this pose, it helps open up the pelvic region and helps increase circulation. In order to practice this pose, stand at the top of your mat. Keep your arms by your side and begin to move your feet so they are about as wide as your mat. Slowly begin to bend your knees and come into a squat. Make sure your thighs are separated and are kept wider than your torso. Keeping your heels touching the ground, lean forward slightly. Bring your palms into prayer position, breathe, and hold for five minutes.
How to modify:
If you are like me and have bad knees, sometimes this pose can be complicated. Get a yoga block and put it under you to rest your bottom on. This will help ease up any pain in the knees and also help if you are having trouble balancing.
Child's pose, or "Balasana"
I love this pose because it helps a variety of different symptoms I experience. Balasana is known to help with cramping, anxiety, and even release tension. It also opens up my back, hips and helps when I have migraines. To practice this pose, sit on your knees on your mat. Begin to spread your knees apart, keeping your big toes touching one another. Sit up straight and slowly bend at your torso bringing your chest to rest on your thighs and forehead on the floor. Extend your arms in front of you or leave them along side your body. Breathe and hold for five minutes.
How to modify:
Use a yoga block if you cannot get your forehead all the way to the floor. Resting your forehead on the block also helps with migraines. You can also put a soft blanket or pillow under your knees if they are not comfortable on the mat.
What's in your emergency endo kit?