Yoga Therapy and Dermatomyositis
Dear fellow yogi,
I just thought I would send in some praise for yoga therapy and yoga in general. I am 21 years old and was recently diagnosed with a rare skin/muscular disease called ‘Dermatomyositis’ which is basically a condition which affects most of the muscles in the body but for me my hips and shoulder muscles were most affected. The standard treatment for this condition is a heavy dose of steroid medication and plenty of rest.
When I was first diagnosed with the condition I didn’t really think of ‘yoga therapy’ even after reading about it in a yoga magazine (AYL March/July issue). But after talking to Danny one of my old yoga teachers and hearing some of the improvements people had seen through yoga therapy I thought I would give it a go. At first I was very hesitant to try it because I didn’t think that there was really anything that I could do with my very limited mobility, lack of strength and limited flexibility, but I went to my yoga therapy sessions anyway. To my surprise there was actually quite a lot that I could do, and my teacher Suzanne emphasized the importance of good technique and proper breathing in my modified postures. In the first session we basically talked about my lifestyle and what could be changed and incorporated to get me better. I also did a modified child pose, feet up the wall (actually on a chair), nodi shodana (alternate nostril breathing) and savasana.
It is unbelievable how much I have improved since that first session, I have gone from barely being able to get out of bed, sit cross legged, kneel or hardly walk up a set of stairs to doing two full yoga classes a week, surf properly again and meditate fairly comfortably for a full hour cross legged. In my second yoga therapy session I once again found myself in a state of bliss during and after the session. It has without a doubt changed my life and saved me months of physical pain.
My doctor said that I had a 70% chance of being right by about xmas time but it is mid October now and I believe I am almost 100% again, all thanks to yoga and meditation. Every day I did my modified exercises followed by yoga nidra and every day I woke up feeling happy and ready to go. It got to the point where I was doing about 4hrs of yoga/yoga nidra a day, simply because it felt so good afterwards.
I am so grateful to my yoga teachers at GCYC who have instilled a passion for yoga and life in me. Suzanne is a beautiful teacher and has definitely helped me through one of the hardest periods of my life and turned it into the most blissful part of my life so far.
Also every week I have been getting a blood test to check my Creatine Kinasae (CK) levels which are basically muscle damage levels. When I was first diagnosed my CK level was 5100 and is now down to 30, the normal level is anywhere between 0-190, so the doctor said I should only gauge my improvements about once every three months, but it has only been two months and he has now decided to start weaning me off the medication completely.
When I was unwell I had plenty of time to read and managed to read ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’, ‘The Power of Now’ and ‘A New Earth’ which were all great books. Sometimes I think the universe wants us to slow down a bit and if it means that we have to contract or get some disease or illness in order to do that, we will.
Its amazing how quickly our health can deteriorate and how quickly it can rebuild, but through suffering can come surrender and through this surrendered state presence can be felt more fully. So now that I’m almost 100% right again it feels harder to meditate and just be as there’s so much I want to do. I’m now trying to live in the present moment as much as possible, and focus on being less ambitious and driven as I used to be. It’s hard to do things differently when everyone is pretty much doing the same thing as going out drinking and womanising but meditation is a wonderful thing and it makes life appear so much more beautiful than it used to look. I have just recently found a new peace whilst meditating and ad my CD says meditation is the art of ‘being’ not trying or forcing anything. This has given me a new view of acceptance towards a lot of things and has helped me relax and surrender to a deeper level of peace and joy.
Finally I’d just like to add how wonderful all the teachers are at the G.C.Y.C. and how much joy and wisdom they have taught me not just about yoga or meditation but about life and living. I hope your journey is filled with happiness and peace,
p.s here’s a little poem I wrote
Just focusing simply
Or the breath
Aches and pains
Come and go
As peaceful awareness
I come to know.
Information on Dermatomyositis: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000839.htm