I’ve been meaning to write about this for ages, and I’m finally taking time for myself today, which means in part two posts to this blog. Although I didn’t do much yoga immediately after Elena was born (the year before and the first year of my illness), I used to do lots of it — both when I was healing from a repetitive strain injury in 1997-2001, and during my first pregnancy and after my son was born in 2003.
So when I decided to tackle being ill in the fall of 2007 under the assumption that I had another repetitive strain injury, one thing I started trying to do when I had time was a little bit of yoga. Imagine my surprise when I couldn’t even touch my toes (I am normally very flexible). I had little time to think about yoga, and did not connect the problem to my illness (I thought perhaps I was just getting older). But I was very pleased when I discovered in January that my old flexibility was back — it seemed a clear sign that things were heading in the right direction.
Now, I have seen very clearly over the years since I first took up yoga in 1997 that it can help with healing and wellbeing. So when I renewed my determination to take my healing into my own hands in January, I made the switch from massage (a passive physical form of healing) to yoga (an active physical form of healing). I ambitiously visited the level I/level II class at a nearby studio, and that was both a big mistake and exactly the right thing to do.
The studio I visited, Yoga on Centre, turned out to be a true gem. I’ve always said you can find at least one of everything good in Pittsburgh. You may not get choice, but one is usually enough, and in this case, it’s more than enough. The teachers at this studio are very knowledgable, and they practice a type of yoga that’s well suited to healing – iyengar yoga. They quickly steered me to a less energy-intensive, restorative class, which I found very relaxing and helpful.
Given how helpful the yoga was in a class setting, and how great the teachers were, I decided to try taking the yoga home with guidance. I arranged a private session with one of the instructors (I’ve now met with her twice privately) and got her advice on a practice that I could do before bed each night, and in the morning upon waking up. It was also on her advice that I shifted my sleep schedule to be asleep before 10 each night.
The yoga practice I do is intense and restful both, and I truly believe that it is helping my body to process and respond to my illness. It’s a big time commitment, but I think that it helps prepare me for sleep and for healing. The sleep itself seems to be more effective when I start sleeping earlier, and indeed I have found that I almost never nap, and during good weeks often wake up after only 7.5 hours feeling rested, now that I go to sleep earlier. It also helps that my husband has sacrificed his sleep to ensure that I am never interrupted at night by our kids, who still do not sleep through the night.
So, sleep and yoga are my most consistent and helpful daily adulations to health.