A ROOT Awakening #4: Yoga Therapy and Chronic Conditions 101 (minus the freshman lecture hall)

By: Jasmine Rausch

What the difference is between yoga and yoga therapy? Most people that seek me out as a yoga therapist are generally not coming for the physical exercise but rather to get help with some chronic symptom(s) or health condition that is troubling them. The sessions and overall client care program focuses on their specific condition and individual needs. Yoga therapy uses the principles and practices of yoga as tools to help clients improve and manage their symptoms, increase their function, and regain control of their life. It provides a safe space for us to pay attention and understand the ROOT of our physical, emotional, and mental suffering. This practice taught me how to move away from the stories that plagued my mind and allowed me to shift into a space of compassion to improve my quality of life and even my relationships.

3 key yoga therapy tools to manage your chronic condition:

  1. Be Mindful

To be mindful means to be completely in the moment, to set aside time to pay purposeful attention to your surroundings, your thoughts and emotions, and how your body feels in the moment without judging or get stuck in the thinking loop. Is it about allowing yourself space and time to observe, explore, and listen.

As a lifelong asthmatic, I was feeling trapped living as a victim of my chronic disease. Negativity brewed and resulted in more negativity.  Mindfulness allows me to consciously embrace the present (and that doesn’t mean I am always feeling good in the present). It creates the space for me to move out of a very limiting mindset and projects me into one of infinite possibilities and opportunities. It shifts my focus and in doing so continues to teach me to respond with purposeful attention rather than react to the aggravation of my mind.

  1. Be Accepting and Don’t Give up

At first, I thought accepting my chronic condition meant that I was giving up. Michael J. Fox once said, “Acceptance does not mean resignation. It means understanding that something is what it is and that there’s got to be a way through it.” Gaining awareness around our actions is a key component to understanding how our disease works. Having a chronic disease feels like something has invaded your body and is systematically taking over every part of who we are. Every time I would experience symptoms, my mind and body would react in fear, frustration, and hopelessness which made my symptoms worse. By owning my disease, I began to understand my disease. Now, I offer myself compassion, give myself permission to slow down and feed my body with the extra love it so desperately needs.

  1. Be Your Perfect Self

Disease is in the body not the soul! It’s very challenging to not allow our chronic disease to suddenly define who we are. Yes, loved ones may speak about your disease as though it dictates what you can and can’t do. Whatever YOU do… remind yourself that you are not your disease and it is not part of the description of who you are. You control your chronic disease, don’t ever let it fool you into believing it controls you. Something may have inhabited your body, but it has not changed the perfect heart of who you are.

Challenge: Practice Tool #1 and take 3-5 minutes to sit and breathe. When the timer goes off, give yourself a moment to reflect.

Comment below using one word to describe your experience. We can’t wait to hear from you!

“Most folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.”- Abraham Lincoln