Here in Minnesota we’re still waiting for the snow to melt, but spring has begrudgingly sprung, school is out, and many of us are looking forward to taking a vacation. While a change from everyday monotony is often exactly what we need to relieve stress, those of us managing chronic illness know that breaking from routine can make it hard to stay on top of our health. Thankfully, this summer we’re releasing a series on managing endometriosis while on vacation! Today’s topic: Yoga.
For centuries around the world people have been practicing many types of yoga. As a low-impact exercise, it is easier on the joints than pounding pavement. It’s also intentional and mindful, nourishing the spirit and mind as well as the body.
I first tried yoga after realizing that running was simply not going to work for my body. I’d set out to jog through the park on a glorious spring day and find that I could feel my adhesions with each step. So, I signed up for a Bikram class – Bikram is the original hot yoga: 90 minutes of specific poses in a humid 104°F environment. While I found myself more flexible I was also always tired. One day I passed out in class and had to accept that Bikram was not for me either. But the beauty of yoga is that there are as many practices as there are people. I tried Ashtanga, Vinyasa Flow, Hatha, and Yin. I loved that each practice and each class brought out different aspects of yoga for me, whether it were calming the mind, increasing flexibility, or building strength.
We’re lucky to live in a time where it’s easy to stream free fitness videos anytime, anywhere, which makes yoga an accessible practice even on vacation. What practice is right for your body? That’s a journey you’ll have to take for yourself, but if you’re living in chronic pain I highly recommend trying Yin. It’s a slow, restorative practice that increases strength and flexibility very gently, all while calming the mind and nervous system.
In the meantime, here are some helpful asanas (that’s yoga-speak for poses) that are great for managing endometriosis anywhere:
1. Begin on your back in Supine Butterfly Pose. Set your intentions for today’s practice and bring your attention and breath to the pelvic area.
2. Hug your legs close to you in Knees-to-Chest Pose. Roll side to side.
3. Move from here into Happy Baby Pose. Make sure to keep your neck lengthened and your chin towards your chest so your neck doesn’t arch. Rock side to side again.
4. Half Happy Baby Pose. Send one leg down at a time.
5. Eye of the Needle Pose
6. Windshield Wiper Pose. Inhale as you bring your legs up and exhale as you bring them to each side (don’t forget to turn your head the opposite direction)
7. Extended Child’s Pose. Widen your knees, walk hands up, and breathe down into the mat) focus on sending your breath to the areas that feel tight. Modification tip: if this pose feels like too much, bring your knees a bit closer together under your body.
8. 1-Legged Pigeon Pose: If you’re able to, sit up for a few breaths; then fold yourself over and let your forehead touch the ground with your arms stretched out in front of you. Modification tip: This is a really powerful hip and pelvic opener – if it feels like too much, try Thread the Needle pose. Make it more dynamic this time by drawing circles with your knee in both directions.
Yogi tip: You will undoubtedly feel like one side of your body is much tighter than the other. This is totally normal. Try to focus on acknowledging and sending your breath to the tighter side rather than judging it.
9. Sufi Grind
These poses are great for opening and strengthening the hips and pelvic region, making them helpful tools in managing endometriosis anywhere you are. So go ahead, take a few minutes for yourself, you deserve it!
Countdown to the 2019 Minnesota Endo March