Friday, January 25, 2013

Living with Autoimmune Disease: Yoga I Did It

A few months ago, I wrote a post about the disappointment of not being able to attend my first yoga class in a number of years... despite my careful and meticulous planning to make sure I would be to make it.  Yesterday, it was a different story.  I made it to the yoga class!!!

I have been hoping to go to yoga for almost two months, but even the day of I didn't know if it would be possible.  The stars seemed to be aligning against me. The previous day was tough and I was in lots of neurological pain.  More broadly, I am in the midst of a flare and am more limited in what I can do than I have been for awhile.  Making matters worse, the weather was absolutely frigid.  Somehow, somehow, my body cooperated just enough. I made it.

It was my first gym or exercise class of any kind in three and a half years.  That's long for anyone, but for me that's a reminder of just how hard things have been. Before getting sick, I had always regularly exercised in some way whether it was dance, yoga, or running. Exercise used to be my release and my means of getting rid of my excess energy.  Yes, before becoming AutoimmuneGal, I was a hyperactive gal.

I approached the possibility of attending the class casually.  I didn't even put it in my calendar.  I was fatigued by the time the afternoon rolled around yesterday, but I decided to push through this time. It was worth it.

Perfect Plough Pose

The class was designed for people with arthritis. Ok, that doesn't exactly fit me, but I figured the teacher wouldn't push me past what I could do. I walked in and was the youngest in the room by decades.  Sometimes I say that I feel like having autoimmune disease means that I have a sense of what it is like to be in my 70s (even though I am only in my 30s). In that class it was literally true.

The class was pretty low impact, which is exactly what I needed.  The hour and half class consisted mostly of gently stretching, slow movements, deep breathing and meditation.  The teacher carefully guided us through the postures and helped us individually to make adjustments so none of them were painful.  It felt good to slowly move my rusty muscles and joints that I haven't focused on in ages.   I could feel them working hard even to hold basic poses.  I recognized many of the poses as lying downs versions of standing poses that I had done in my previous practice.  And while I used to do things like headstands, I found the low key, relaxing and supportive atmosphere of a restorative yoga class enjoyable.

The best part is that I left class feeling less fatigue than when I started.  If restorative yoga is something that I can do when I am flaring I certainly feel like I can plan to be back for more. This was a big accomplishment for me and I do hope I will be able to incorporate some gentle exercise into my life again on a regular basis.


  1. What a good idea -- restorative yoga. I may have to look into this. LOVE the doggie pic, by the way.

    1. I really recommend. It was so good for me. Glad you like the picture. It gave me a good chuckle : ).

  2. Hello, I started doing yoga after my body melted down last year. It has been a god send. I do mine at home with Yogazone or I pick a begginners you tube video. I believe it is essential and oh so great for navigating the chronic health issues. So funny that you talk about feeling like you have an old body. I am the exact same way....always wonder what it will feel like when I am "old" sending you light.

  3. the summer prior to my diagnosis I did a 100km race- yes I did say 100km.
    I went from being that crazy fitness lady to questioning if I could get through a zumba class without being so fatigued I can't speak coherently.It has irrevocably changed my self perception.
    I think taking a class GEARED for seniors may be just the way to go! It would alleviate any anxiety about having to slow it down or adapt it if needed. Thanks for the idea!