If there’s anything someone with chronic illness hears over and over, it’s DO YOGA. And I won’t lie. Yoga has great benefits for those of us dealing with chronic illnesses. The gentle stretches and movements can be a balm on a rough day, to pick up your spirits, and make you feel as if you can do something, especially if you live with a condition that too often limits your activities.
But also, most chronic illnesses (my own included) are dynamic. There are days when you don’t feel like being able to do 20-30 minutes on the mat, and when that happens, you often wonder what you can do. If the string of days lasts for a while, then you can feel your practice slip ever so slowly away.
The good news is even one pose can bring benefits. It’s why I’m a huge proponent of my five-minute meditation series. (Have you taken my free class?) There’s a good chance, no matter your health situation, you can make it into corpse pose. (Laying on your back, arms at your sides). Laying there and doing deep breathing counts as yoga and can often help you feel better on a rough day.
Another pose I especially enjoy is Raised Hands Pose (Urdhva Hatasana). Stand in mountain pose (stand straight, arms at your sides), then lift your hands overhead, joining them together by pressing the palms to one another. Then, focus your attention on your thumbs by lifting your eyes. Don’t tilt your head back. Take several deep breaths, then bring your hands down in a way that’s comfortable for you. I like to keep my hands together and lower them to chest height before inhaling and raising them again. This is a good pose for relaxation, deep breathing, and focus.
You may feel that it “doesn’t count” if you can’t go through a full sun salutation or a full routine, but any yoga you can put into your day, even if it’s just a pose for a minute or two, will help bring focus and clarity into your life. And when your thoughts start to spiral, as they often do for those battling chronic illness, then a yoga pose can help calm them down, return your awareness to your body, and remind you that you are capable.
Whatever you’re feeling, remember it is just a transitory feeling. It won’t last. Take things moment by moment. Yoga helps me to do that.