Life with chronic illness:
Living with a chronic illness can be challenging, both physically and mentally. The constant pain, fatigue, and other symptoms can take a toll on one's overall well-being. While there may not be a cure for many chronic illnesses, there are ways to manage the symptoms and improve quality of life. One such method is restorative yoga.
Nourish's approach to this style of yoga is to make the poses accessible to those with chronic disease so as not to go into post-exertional malaise or more pain.
What is Restorative yoga?
Restorative yoga is a gentle and therapeutic form of yoga that focuses on relaxation and deep rest. It involves holding poses for an extended period with the support of props such as blankets, bolsters, and blocks. The goal is to achieve a state of deep relaxation, allowing the body and mind to heal. It is a powerful tool to decrease stress by activating the parasympathetic nervous system.
In this way, we use the inborn systems of the body to activate the parasympathetic nervous system. This system is responsible for digestion, elimination, fertility, immunity, hormone regulation, and so much more.
Restorative yoga reduces hyperactivity in the frontal cortex and helps us to regulate interoceptive awareness.
When we practice, our brain waves change, shifting from Beta (active state) through Alpha (meditative state) into the deeper Theta (dream state) and Delta (sleep state).
More than just rest, Restorative practices promote physical, emotional, and psychological healing.
How does it benefit chronic illness?
Restorative yoga offers several benefits for individuals living with chronic illness:
- Stress reduction: Chronic illness can cause significant stress, which can exacerbate symptoms and impact overall health. Restorative yoga activates the body's relaxation response, reducing stress hormones and promoting a sense of calm.
- Pain management: Chronic pain is a common symptom of many chronic illnesses. Restorative yoga helps to alleviate pain by releasing tension in the body, improving circulation, and promoting the release of endorphins, the body's natural painkillers.
- Improved sleep: Many individuals with chronic illness struggle with sleep disturbances. Restorative yoga can help improve sleep quality by calming the nervous system and promoting relaxation.
- Enhanced immune function: Chronic illness can weaken the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to infections. Restorative yoga has been shown to boost immune function by reducing inflammation and promoting overall well-being.
- Increased self-awareness: Living with a chronic illness often means being disconnected from one's body. Restorative yoga encourages individuals to tune in to their body's needs, fostering a greater sense of self-awareness and self-care.
How to practice restorative yoga?
Here are some tips for practicing restorative yoga:
- Find a quiet space: Choose a quiet and peaceful environment where you can relax without distractions.
- Gather props: Gather the necessary props such as blankets, bolsters, and blocks to support your body in the poses.
- Start with simple poses: Begin with simple restorative poses taught in Nourish's Restorative Yoga Practices.
- Focus on breath: Pay attention to your breath and allow it to guide you into a state of deep relaxation.
- Listen to your body: Honor your body's limitations and modify the poses as needed. The goal is to find comfort and relaxation, not to push yourself into discomfort.
Restorative yoga can be a valuable tool for managing chronic illness. It offers a gentle and accessible way to promote relaxation, reduce symptoms, and improve overall well-being. If you're living with a chronic illness, consider incorporating restorative yoga into your self-care routine and experience the benefits for yourself.