kelly triangle pose

Yoga for Healing: Living with and Recovering from Physical Ailments

Written By: Megan Waterfield

Unlike many physical activities, yoga is something that’s often recommended to prevent or help treat certain physical ailments.

Restorative breathing patterns paired with lengthening poses brings a sense of comfort to the body, helping to ease pain in any tight or hurting spots.

We have yogis at EPY who use the Journey into Power sequence to help them cope with their physical ailments. We’ve asked them to share their favorite poses and how the Baptiste practice has helped them cope through their recoveries.

The following shares are personal experiences from students within the Evolution Community.

Living with Scoliosis

1. Which pose(s) is most beneficial in easing your scoliosis?
“The most beneficial poses for me are the extended side angle and the side planks. I also love tree and eagle, as all the balance practice strengthens my core.” 

Extended Side Angle

2. How has the Baptiste practice helped you cope with scoliosis?
“Yoga has helped me with core strength and flexibility to better support my spine. It helps my spine perform in a proper manner, without putting me in a position for muscle spasms and reducing my risk of bulging/herniated discs. I have far less pain and greater ease in performing everyday tasks. I essentially feel like a “normal person” when practicing yoga. Most of my arthritis pain is diminished as well.”

Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis

1. Which pose(s) is most beneficial in easing your RA?
“I don’t have a specific pose that I feel is so helpful ….for me it’s the cumulative effect of how I feel after I’ve finished a class.”

2. How has the Baptiste practice helped you cope with RA?
“Yoga came to me when I was feeling my worst and no doctor could figure out what was going on with me.  It’s now been about 10 years since the diagnosis and the start of my yoga practice.  I do have to take medicine for my Rheumatoid Arthritis and I am thankful to have them.  I realized early on that yoga was definitely going to be part of my treatment.  It keeps me moving and makes me push myself, as well as staying mentally and physically fit.

In class, I do what the day allows me to and I still surprise myself when I go above that. Baptiste has been a god sent as after 10 years I was looking for something more for me. Incorporating Eastern and Western methods allows me to live the best life for me. I am hooked!”

Recovering from Breast Cancer

1. Which pose(s) is most beneficial in easing your pain throughout your recovery from breast cancer?
“There was not just one pose to help me ease my pain in recovery, but a collection of poses. I found that the breath was the single most important part of my practice as I was moving through my journey back on the mat. I had to breathe and notice where my body was and what is was able to do at the time.” 

2. How has the Baptiste practice helped you cope with your breast cancer journey?
“The Baptiste practice has given me access to what is possible in my body and life. I never thought I would be able to move my body in ways that I do now. It has shown me that it’s okay to begin again each time I step on the mat and meet my body where it is at that particular time.”

Recovering from Back Surgery

“I have always been active, but I never found my “thing” until yoga. I discovered yoga after having physical therapy for my back. I am naturally very flexible, to later find out that isn’t actually a good thing, so the PT had to get more creative with stretches for me.  

Before I knew it, the physical therapist had me doing primarily yoga stretches.  Obviously, I decided to give yoga a try.  I fell in love with it. I practiced for a little over a year, but unfortunately had to have surgery in order to relieve pressure on a nerve.  

I had to stop yoga for almost 4 months and honestly that was the hardest part of the surgery for me. I was told by my surgeon that everything went well, but I should expect to need a spinal fusion in the next few years.  I looked straight into his eyes, laughed and said that I was going to have the best set of abs ever seen on a 55 year old woman and I would not need to have a fusion. 

I knew I had some work ahead of me, so the first day of my release from the surgery, I was at EPY taking my first Baptiste class. I felt like I was learning to walk again, but correctly this time.” 

1. Which pose(s) is most beneficial in easing your back pain after surgery?

“The poses that helped to ease my back pain and still do are child’s pose, down dog, and poses that help to lengthen my spine.  It is critical to note as well that everything that incorporates the core is critical for the spine.  That is what keeps the spine strong and aligned.”

2. How has the Baptiste practice helped you cope after your back surgery?

“Baptiste yoga has helped me cope with the back surgery by giving me the tools that I need to get stronger physically and mentally.  It has taught me that I need to listen to my body and that everyday is different. Baptiste yoga has given me the hope I needed for my future.”

Do you share any of these ailments? Try out their favorite poses and tips to see if they help you!

Two other common ailments that many people suffer from are migraines and digestive issues, so we want to share some recommended poses to help ease your pain. The next time you feel that all familiar onset of a migraine or your stomach starts to cramp up, try these poses to see how they affect your body.

Yoga for Migraines

Child’s Pose
  1. Child’s pose can calm the nervous system and reduce pain. 
  2. Bridge pose or wheel pose opens the heart, chest, and shoulders and can reduce any anxiety you might be feeling.
  3. Downward facing dog can increase circulation to the brain.
  4. Corpse pose (savasana) is great to do in the midst of a migraine, as you bring your body into total relaxation.

The most important component of practicing yoga to reduce migraine pain is to focus on your breath. Deep breathing slows the heart, lowers blood pressure, and calms the entire body. This calms the nervous system, which in turn relaxes the muscles and reduces pain.


Yoga for Digestive Issues

Triangle Pose
  1. Legs up the wall helps draw blood flow to the stomach to increase digestion and fight nausea.
  2. Gentle spinal twists increase peristalsis by massaging the right and left sides of the colon and can relieve cramping.
  3. Triangle pose tones the pelvic organs, and the slight twist helps move the food throughout your body, aiding in digestion.
  4. Cat-cow pose massages your abdominal organs to stimulate your digestive and reproductive systems. 


If you’re suffering from any type of ailment, our Baptiste-styled classes may be able to help! Stop in and chat with one of our instructors to learn what yoga can do for you. We hope to see you on your mat (in person or virtually)!

*This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any ailment or disease. Please consult with your physician prior to beginning a yoga practice.

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