4 Things Yoga Taught Me About Healing From Chronic Illness…

4 Things Yoga Taught Me About Healing From Chronic Illness


Healing through Yoga

Living with a chronic illness can be very challenging.

The physical and emotional issues that go with them can be almost overwhelming at times.

Those of us who have them must take advantage of occasional help from others, but more importantly, learn to support ourselves in ways to live a happy, fulfilling life.

For several years now I have dealt with RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis), an immune system disorder that is so much more than the normal aches and pains of OA (Osteoarthritis).

Even on the good days, pain, fatigue and brain fog can make doing normal, everyday activities difficult.

Then, a year ago, I was diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease. Loss of hearing in one ear, spinning vertigo and nausea with vomiting are the main symptoms.

But one of the most frustrating one is Tinnitus; the constant, ringing, buzzing, clicking and other loud noises in my deaf ear.

It makes concentration, sleeping, even relaxing, very challenging.

There is no cure for either of these diseases, but I found hope, improvement and a return to a much happier life through an active meditation and yoga practice.

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Losing Hope

I must admit, at first I put everything on hold.

The pain and fatigue of RA was exhaustive and I stopped doing yoga.

Because of my lower back problems, I could no longer do the poses that had helped me for so many years.

It returned with a vengeance.

I still walked and meditated, but life was not as enjoyable as before.

Then, when I started feeling the effects of Meniere’s, I almost lost hope.

I eventually stopped meditating because of the constant tinnitus. Even with the constant pain of RA I found I could still find that still point, that place of peace and oneness that comes with years of practicing meditation.

Now, with the loud noises always in my head, I felt that I had lost that ability to connect to that place of peace and knowing.

Having Faith

I feared it was gone forever.

Things went from bad to worse. I almost lost hope.

Almost, but not quiet. The lessons I had learned from mindfulness and meditation, along with remembering how yoga had helped me before, kept me from totally giving up.

That, plus the tiny voice in my head and heart that kept whispering, “You can do this. Just try. Please just try.”

It didn’t happen overnight. It has taken months of pushing myself—a lot of times beyond my comfort zone.

Already a vegetarian who occasionally eats eggs, I had to learn how to fight the symptoms of my disorders with good nutrition.

Also, I had to learn to simply accept that things had changed.

I’ve had years of experience with mindfulness, yoga, and meditation, and I knew that if I could change my perspective, accept and move on with my life, I had a very good chance of improving my quality of life.

Here are four things that I learned on my journey back to myself and my practice:

  • Never give up. You are so much stronger than you think you are. Always believe in yourself and do everything you can to make your life happy and fulfilling. There will be always be days when we get discouraged. Such is life for everyone. There may be days you just can‘t do as much as normal. Go with it. Do what you can on that particular day and do more when you can.
  • Do not dwell on what you can‘t do. Every day when we wake up, we are given the choice to either dwell on the past or live in the present. Each day is a blessing. Accept that there will be things that you simply can no longer do, or at least not in the way you were accustomed to doing them. So what if you have to use props to do some yoga poses that you once did with ease? You can still do them, but you might need to tailor them to fit your needs. For instance, I use a barre to balance myself while in Warrior Pose, and many other positions where my balance is not as good as it used to be. A sturdy chair works just as well! Concentrate on and be grateful for all the thingsno matter how smallthat you can do. You’ll be surprised at the number there is of them.
  • Your attitude makes a difference. As a matter of fact, it makes a huge difference. Our attitude can be the difference between living a productive, happy life, or living one of regret, sadness, and even a worsening of our illness. Our mind is a magical thing. It transforms our perceptions into our reality. It has tremendous power. Use it to your advantage!
  • A regular practice of yoga and meditation will make life much better, evenor maybe especially—for those of us chronic illnesses. Along with nutrition, and sometimes medication, a regular practice is the best thing you can do for yourself and those around you. It is worth every moment of frustration (and there will be those moments) that you will encounter. Learning to listen to our body and push beyond our comfort zone, even just a little, can have tremendous positive results in the long run. It not only helps to deal with chronic pain and the other physical issues, but also helps to combat depression, anxiety, and the emotional issues as well.


Today, I am doing better.

I still have difficult days, and I’m not back to where I was physically before the illnesses, but I have come so far from the days when I was almost ready to give up.

I am once again enjoying life. And I have to say, I am even happier than I was before I became ill.

This was accomplished by learning to let my illnesses be my teachers.

And what great teachers they are!

One day at time, one moment at a time, we can regain our happiness if we learn to cleanse our perceptions, believe in ourselves, and simply keep on practicing.


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Deb Avery

Deb Avery lives in the Southern United States with her animals, surrounded by mighty oaks and woodlands. All of Nature…

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