Rediscovering Her Body Through Scoliosis: Pei Lien’s Journey
12 June 2021, Saturday
Scoliosis – or the deviation of the skeletal system – can significantly impact a person’s physical mobility, mental state, and overall health.
Scoliosis may be diagnosed at any age, and often require some serious lifestyle changes. Instead of seeing this condition as a problem with no cure, scoliosis can also be seen as a challenge for people to rediscover their body, and work to the root of the imbalance.
That is what happened to Pei Lien.
Pei Lien is a 48-year-old yoga student working as a secondary school teacher. She was born with scoliosis and experienced a myriad of health issues growing up. As an adult, after years of lost hope in finding effective solutions for her pain, she walked into the doors of Real Yoga.
This is her story.
Living With Scoliosis
Diagnosed early on as a child with scoliosis, Pei Lien recalls the various doctor’s appointment, treatments, and pain she had to go through growing up.
“I remember seeing many doctors, but no one gave me an efficient way to manage my conditions, or render any helpful medical intervention, besides sending me to someone else”.
“My mother took me to swimming lessons, but other than that, doctors advised her to only bring me back if things worsen. And of course, they did”.
Much like many health conditions that require lifestyle management, it is common to see general practitioners dismiss patients. After all, scoliosis is a physical condition that requires taking a deep look at the anatomy and physiology of a person, in order to find an efficient way to manage it. And often, one doctor with one solution is not enough to positively alter the pain that comes with scoliosis. Pei Lien found this the hard way.
“Over the years, the health problems started to accumulate. Starting with asthma, then stomach ulcers. Visiting doctors became the most regular activity. Lots of unexplainable swells and pains occur in various parts of my body. There will be days I can’t stand straight or walk properly and even lying flat on my back is not possible. At that time, I can’t understand why my siblings could go about daily activities easily and I can’t. Most of the doctors will recommend swimming and walking as the only exercises I can attempt but I could only manage them for a short while and at a low speed. I had to go through treatments and medications to manage the pain and new health problems just pop up over the years.”
Around that time, Pei Lien turned towards her colleagues for recommendations. Some of them praised the gentle approach that yoga offered, so she joined the Real Yoga Jurong Branch to try it for herself.
Like many others, Pei Lien’s yoga journey was challenging. But for her, the pain and lack of energy that comes with scoliosis created extra weight on her practice. She recalls:
“I started going to Real Yoga 4 years ago, but the first 2 years were very difficult. I could only attend a class once or twice a month, and when I did, I couldn’t keep up. My energy was so low that I stopped halfway through the class. Even what some would consider easy poses like the Cobra were painful to perform”.
“But while teachers recommended that I take a break when I needed it, I just didn’t want to give up”.
Concerned for her physical limitations and with the desire to help, teachers and fellow yoga students recommended Pei Lien to speak directly with Master Saumik.
A Focus on the Human Anatomy
As a yoga student since the age of 5, a passionate and committed teacher, and the founder of Real Yoga, Master Saumik’s work has been highly focused on elevating the importance of the human anatomy in yoga. Through his work, Master Saumik supports his students to observe the body engineering system, explore the causes of physical pain and diseases, and understand how movement can be healing to the body.
“At first, I was sceptical to see Master Saumik as I didn’t understand the point. I mean, I could barely practice yoga and didn’t have the level to be taught by a master. But eventually, I gave in and went to his class. After that, my yoga practice and scoliosis management were never the same”.
Rediscovering The Body
Most yoga teachers have basic knowledge of anatomy and the way muscles, joints, and fascias interact with each other. Conditions like scoliosis bring another complex layer to the practice that most are unsure of.
Master Saumik surprised Pei Lian with his questions when they met. Master Saumik took a physiological approach to Pei Lien’s condition and combined various aspects of yoga in response to her body’s needs.
“When I asked Master Saumik if he could help with my scoliosis, the first thing he requested was my X-ray. This surprised me. After careful observation, he recommended personal training to teach me about my limitations and help me better understand my body. After only a few PT sessions, I could feel subtle changes. I started being able to make it through an entire class and attending few classes per week. I also started attending his workshops and courses.
Days Without Pain
After a few months, the changes became more obvious. Never have I thought I would be able to sleep facing up or go through days without pain. There were much fewer occurrences of swellings and aches that limited my movements. I was able to stand upright on most days and move about freely. With the increased mobility in my body and better energy level, I was even able to attend 2 to 3 classes a day, and I gained the confidence to attempt difficult poses.”
A Deeper Learning
Pei Lien decided to join Master Saumik’s 10-week Yoga Teacher Training Certification (YTTC) programme, which enabled her to rediscover her body in a new way. Having taught that healing should be nurtured, instead of forced, she learned to seek answers by feeling, instead of asking. Many restrictions that were once imposed by her body were beginning to unlock and she started feeling movement in her hips. Finally, now a certified teacher, she also better understands how to work with a person’s physical limitation. Her journey and struggle with chronic health issues have empowered her with the ability to empathise with her students.
Yoga is not just about practising a series of poses. It is a healing tool that works through the act of rediscovering and working with one’s body. Claim your free consultation and trial session with one of our yoga consultants today.