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How To Adapt Your Yoga Practice After A Health Change

Happiness | Lifestyle

Two weeks ago today, I had a bit of a medical scare: I had two seizures. Everything has checked out so far, and, aside from the fear and stress that can come with incidents like these, my recovery is going pretty smoothly.

According to the doctors, there are many things that can lower someone’s threshold and make him/her more susceptible to having a seizure: stress, sleep deprivation, dehydration, etc. (basically all of the things we already know are bad for us). As you can imagine, these are all very common for a college student like me.

So here’s the catch: I have been instructed to stop doing yoga, or at least to significantly change the way I have come to love to practice. I cannot do hot yoga, my practice of choice, or any “intense physical activity” until we have a better idea of what is going on with my body. As you can imagine, this came as a bit of a shock. You want me to give up the practice I consider most responsible for making my life healthful, happy and manageable? Aren't all of those things important to prevent seizures?

Get Over The Shock

Well, once I got over the shock of this seemingly terrible news, I was able to accept the doctors’ advice for what it was: the truth. When our bodies go through a trauma, it’s important to give them time to heal, especially in my case, because it could be indicative of a larger seizure disorder. I need to learn to put my body and my health first, which is going to be a bit of an adjustment, because for the past three years I have put my studies and professional development before all else. During that time, yoga was a huge part of how I handled that stress, which is why it seemed so scary when I thought I would have to step back from my practice.

But, lucky for me (and for you), yoga is not just some time spent on a mat in a serene room once a day. Yoga is a lifestyle, a teacher, a healer and so much more. I have been learning to practice yoga in so many new ways, it will amaze you!

Do What You Can

Since my doctor’s somewhat upsetting advice, I have been working to develop a yoga practice that works for me. The world works in funny ways: the week after I explore the possibilities of home practice, I come to need it more than ever. I have come up with a couple of flows that include my favorite poses, combined with many juicy, restorative stretches, and a long, deep relaxation. This practice has become a huge help through these difficult past few weeks.

If you ever go through something that keeps you from your regular yoga practice (which I hope you never do!), I recommend finding the poses that still work for you – even if it’s only Savasana – and committing to them. It will help you to exert control over your situation, not to mention, feel great!

Use Your Breath

As yogis, we've all heard this many times. Let your breath carry you through your practice and your life. If you’re like me, you may try very hard to do this, or even think you are able to effectively do so, but, let me tell you first hand, your breath can probably be doing a lot more for you than you realize. Consciously remembering to breathe in times of stress or fear or depression will amaze you in its powerful effects. It will calm and focus you. It will remind you of your yoga practice and all that it represents.

Breath is yoga, and, when we really commit to it, it really does have the power to bring you everything a full class can. Give it a try! You will be glad you did.

Look For New Opportunities

One of the main things that I have encountered over the past two weeks is difficulty sleeping. I think it comes partially from fear, as my first seizure happened in my sleep. This has been especially alarming, because getting adequate sleep was one of the first recommendations of my doctor to prevent future seizures. This caused me even more stress in the fear it produced, making it even more difficult to sleep.

One night, lying in bed, I was reminded of a popular meditation technique taught to me by my first yoga teacher. In Savasana, she would take us through a step-by-step relaxation that touched on each body part. On one breath, we would relax our feet, on another, our calves, etc. We would continue until we actively relaxed each and every body part. I tried this technique that night and found that I was not even able to complete it, as I had fallen asleep!

Yoga can provide new insights into so many aspects of your life if you just open yourself up to its power. Let it speak to you and really listen. It is applicable to any and every part of your life if you are willing to be creative and receptive.

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