Yoga For Chronic Illness

12 March 2021, Friday

Yoga is always associated with getting fit, but do you know about the healing effects of yoga for chronic illness? According to research conducted in 2014, Yoga can help chronically ill patients in the healing process and improvement of immune system function.

While the mainstream solution to long term sickness is to pump more medicine into the body, some people don’t respond well to drugs. This is because medication usually only treats symptoms, but not the underlying causes. A growing dependence on prescription drugs will only lead to more unpleasant side effects and an inevitable downward spiral in health.

For example, there is a risk of prescription drug dependence for people with chronic hypertension. Maintenance medication for hypertension is important. However, a better approach is to tackle the underlying causes of high blood pressure. Obesity, sedentary lifestyle, and lack of exercise are often on the top of the list of risk factors. Yoga addresses these main causes of hypertension, and can totally cure the condition in some cases. Read more about how people have been healed from debilitating illnesses here.  

The aforementioned research found that a 6-week Yoga program helped patients with Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), breast cancer, cardiovascular problems and diabetes. Various markers in those respective illnesses showed tremendous positive upside after a short-term yoga program. 

A Real Yoga member, Paige, attests to the benefits of yoga for her chronic illness. She woke up with an unexplained swell in her neck one morning and was very quickly diagnosed with Lupus, an incurable autoimmune disease. She was just 19, and her world came crashing down. A flurry of doctor’s visits, tests and strong doses of medications ensued. Troubling symptoms of Lupus coupled with side effects of medications meant that she hardly experienced periods of wellness. 

“One episode that gave me a really bad scare was when I woke up with a backache in the morning and by evening, I had lost the ability to walk,” Paige remembers.  

A breakthrough came when a friend invited Paige to accompany her to a yoga stretch session at Real Yoga. She was surprised that by the end of the 60-minute session, she felt a marked difference in her body. “Lupus affects the lungs so I suffered from breathlessness. After just one session, I actually felt my body open up, and I could breathe again!” With regular sessions of Stretch, Hot Stretch and Yin Yoga, Paige experiences an 80% improvement in the effects of her condition and is on her way to stop medication altogether.   

In as little as one to two hours of yoga per day, chronically ill patients are seeing improvements in their condition. This is why yoga is used by many as an alternative or complementary therapy worldwide, even in Western countries.

Yoga controls and prevents the psychological issues that impact overall health

The issue of mental health is growing in popularity all over the world. The past two decades showed an increased public interest in conditions such as depression, anxiety and insomnia. Psychologists and health experts are shedding more light on the link between mental health and physical wellness. On top of this, depression is leading to higher rates of suicide, which is a major cause for concern.

Incidentally, these psychological conditions do not just affect the mind and emotions. They can also manifest in physical ways and become the catalyst in the development of chronic diseases.

Depression, for example, can lead to poor eating habits and lack of exercise. If left unchecked, this could lead to uncontrolled weight gain and lowered metabolism. This makes the depressed person vulnerable to several chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. 

Yoga can help avoid depression, anxiety and insomnia by stimulating the parasympathetic system. This is the part of the nervous system that helps the body rest and heal. It is only activated when we perform various actions such as resting, taking vacations, playing with children, or spending time with a special someone. Yoga, however, is one of the best ways to stimulate the parasympathetic system because of prolonged periods of deep meditation.

Stimulating the body’s relaxation mechanism through yoga will lead to lower stress levels. The body’s stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, will be prevented from running amok. The result is a more relaxed heart function and a good supply of oxygen to the brain. Gamma-aminobutyric acid, a neurotransmitter that produces a calming effect, are also found in increased levels within the body. 

Is there such a thing as a one-size fits all yoga program for all chronic conditions?

A lot of people who turn to yoga for chronic illness make the mistake of stretching themselves too far. This is because they think that they need to “fit in” to a certain standard that is uniform to all practitioners. The result is that they don’t achieve their goals, and in worst cases, hurt themselves in the process. This should not be the case. 

The truth is, there is no one-size-fits-all yoga program that applies universally to everyone. What worked for one person may not work for you. What’s considered safe for another individual might be totally unsafe for you. In short, there needs to be a tailor-made yoga program for each individual’s unique situation as no two people are exactly the same. This custom need must be addressed, and holds especially true for those who are chronically ill.

While people with chronic illness turn to yoga for a holistic way to heal, it is important to first understand what your needs are.  It is also important to know what your physical limitations are. For example, if you are hypertensive, some poses and routines might be off limits for you. If you’ve recently undergone operative procedure, be honest with yourself (and with your consultant) on what you can and cannot do. This will help you understand where you are now physically, and how you can safely transition to the next level.

Understanding your unique situation will help you seek out the right type of yoga class. This is a very important step towards resolving the underlying causes of chronic illness. Discover how we can support you in your goals with expertise of our yoga consultant. 

Here’s how we approach your unique situation at Real Yoga

 Real Yoga’s trained consultants invests time in you explore your needs and specific fitness goals. When you redeem your consultation with any of our experts, you will embark on a journey of discovery of how yoga can help you in your pain or discomfort. Once we understand you and your goals, our consultants will be able to make recommendations on class types and healing exercises for you.  

Before the start of each class, teachers at Real Yoga always asks if anyone suffers from any injury or chronic issue. This is to help them better understand your condition and support you during the class, especially with poses which may be challenging for you. The goal is to ensure a safe and injury-free practice in all of our classes. 

Regardless of your current physical state, yoga has the potential to improve your health by leaps and bounds through holistic and regular practice. We have seen students experience tremendous recovery from their illnesses after a few weeks of yoga classes with us. You could be next.

If you have not yet redeemed your free consultation, contact us here. Book a trial session with us today and experience the positive effects of yoga for chronic illness today.