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The other day I received a tweet from a fellow Twitter asking if I can recommend some yoga for people with Crohn’s.
I must admit I was abit thrown back by this as I didn’t know anything about Crohn’s. It wasn’t something that I have personal or professional experience of.
But I have such faith in yoga’s ability to help people through any physical, emotional, mental and spiritual condition that I replied, give me a few days I will find out more.
So this blog, is written specifically to share what I know about yoga and how yoga eases the pain and discomfort you feel from Crohn’s. I do not know anyone with Crohn’s disease, so all the information gleamed here about Crohn’s is from research on the web.
What Is Yoga?
Yoga is everywhere these days. Yet it is still shrouded in mystery.
In its purest form, yoga consists of a mixture of 5 main practices – asanas, breathing practices, meditation techniques, relaxation and nutrition. These techniques combine to become what is known as yoga.
Underpinning the physical aspects of yoga, there is a whole library of knowledge about the philosophical and spiritual aspects of yoga. It is these subtle exchanges of energy between the emotional, spiritual, physical and mental that make yoga such an intergral part of your ability to feel in control of the flare-ups and severe pain you feel.
How Do You Cope!?
The more I read about Crohn’s the more I thought “%*!%@! How do you manage to cope and live your life. At its worse, you seemed tied to the loo, constantly monitoring your diet, bedridden and no energy. It rules your life.
I read a lot about drug therapy and medication yet the emotional and spiritual side effects didn’t seem to be addressed. Your whole life is turned upside down and friends find it hard to relate to what is going on for you.
What Are The Symptoms of Crohn’s disease?
From what I could make out from my research, Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune disease and as such affects not only your digestive system but other parts of the body such as your joints, eyes and skin.
When you have Crohn’s Disease, especially in the early days of diagnoise it can feel like you have no control over what is happening to your body. Normal functions like going to the toilet, eating your favourite foods, and feeling full of energy are suddenly replaced by unexplained periods of diarrhea, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, loose stools and even blood in your stools. These symptoms can last for weeks or years.
Three Main Yoga Techniques and Their Benefits
1. Yoga Postures:
Known as asanas, yoga poses offer you many benefits.
1. Yoga poses work on the energy centres (chakras). As you stretch and hold a pose you release internal blockages and energy flows freely through your body. This means you have more energy and vitality to cope with the extra demands Crohn’s make on your body.
2. Yoga poses help to detoxify your body and can help to speed up the removal of toxins and bacteria in the body. Twisting poses, such as the Triangle Pose with Spinal Twist or Half Spinal Twist give a deep and gentle massage to the internal organs of your body and help to energise the gastrointestinal system.
3. Yoga poses help to improve flexibility, tones and strengthens muscles. For example, the Bow Pose and Cobra Pose helps to tone and strengthen your back muscles and maintains the elasticity of the spine. A strong spine is essential to support and hold you upright. The Fish Pose relieves stiffness in the neck and shoulders and helps to strengthen the arm muscles. On an emotional level, the Fish Pose opens and expands your rib cage which energetically helps to release sadness and sorrow in your heart centre, which leaves you feeling calmer and more expansive.
Yogic breathing exercises, known as pranayama help to revitalise and energise you.
1.On a basic level, breathing allows you to draw in oxygen into your body and eliminate toxins and bacteria that impede your body’s ability to work correctly.
2. The slower and deeper you breathe, the more you allow oxygen to enter and flow through your body. This expands your lung capacity, stimulates and opens up your heart, which instantly makes you feel refreshed, revitalised and energerised.
3. Yoga breathing exercises, such as Single Nostril Breathing or Humming Bee Breath, help calm your nervous system and increase oxygen levels and blood supply to the internal organs, all of which leads to a deeper sense of calm, inner peace and balance. Learning how to breathe correctly is a wonderful skill you can use anytime during-during a flare-up or when in remission to help maintain an even keel.
3. Meditation Techniques
Meditation techniques help you to think more clearly, quickly and creatively which has a positive effect on your ability to focus and work through your pain and discomfort. When you meditate your body undergoes certain physiological effects which counteract the negative effects of stress and worry. Stress doesn’t cause Crohn’s, but when your body is under constant attack, life is stressful.
1.During meditation brain activity slows down because of an increase in alpha brain waves activity. This produces a deep sense of calm in the body. A few minutes of meditation at the start and end of your day helps you regain your focus on life and reconnects you to something deeper then your pain.
This is just a brief introduction in yoga for Crohn’s. I believe yoga, breathing exercises and meditation techniques can be used to help ease your sense of pain and discomfort.
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment box below.
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