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May 30

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Yoga Self Care for Autoimmune Diseases

May was both Arthritis and Lupus Awareness Month. 

As a person who lives with both these conditions, I try to spread the word by showing how these diseases impact the lives of real people like me.  I also try to support others living with these diseases during May too.  Part of that focus this month included a one-week yoga self-care challenge.   This month, we took 5 minutes out of each day to practice a yoga-inspired self-care tip. 

When I put the challenge together I tried to use yoga philosophy to focus on short, small goals that were easily achievable.  Finding 5 minutes in our day is much easier than an hour and we’re much more likely to meet doable goals.  People living with autoimmune diseases have enough challenges, we need some easy wins once in a while.

This blog post summarizes the full challenge in one place so you can use it anytime you want.  It only takes 5 minutes to work some yoga self-care into your day.

Yoga Self Care Tip #1 – Hydrate

We started this challenge on a weekend,  so I thought it was important to take care of ourselves in a way that we could do when we were already out and about.  Women need approximately 11 cups of fluids a day.  If 8 of those are cups of coffee, your body is probably not super happy with you.  I’ve been drinking a lot of infused waters lately because that little bit of flavor really helps me drink more.  

Yoga Self Care Tip #2 – Restorative yoga before bed

Spend 5 minutes in a restorative posture before you go to bed.  If you need restorative yoga tips for when you’re having an autoimmune flare, read my blog post on restorative yoga focused on lupus flares.

 

Yoga Self Care Tip #3 – Rest

Some days it’s clear you need a nap but sometimes just a quick rest is enough to reset and rejuvenate.  You always have 5 minutes to spare to nurture yourself.

 

 

Yoga Self Care Tip #4 – Be Inspired

Write or print out an inspirational quote that you can use when things aren’t going right for you. 

The one I currently have in my wallet is from Pema Chodron. “Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know. Nothing ever really attacks us except our own confusion. Perhaps there is no solid obstacle except our own need to protect ourselves from being touched. If we run a hundred miles an hour to the other end of the continent in order to get away from the obstacle, we find the very same problem waiting for us when we arrive. It just keeps returning with new names, forms, manifestations until we learn whatever it has to teach us about where we are separating ourselves from reality, how we are pulling back instead of opening up, closing down instead of allowing ourselves to experience fully whatever we encounter, without hesitation or retreating into our ourselves.”

 

Yoga Self Care Tip #5 – Use a mantra

A mantra is a word or sound that you concentrate on and repeat to help you focus.  I think this one is perfect for May because of the elements of repetition.  It’s a mantra that combines the elements of a Metta meditation.  You’re repeating good wishes for yourself and/or others as you use it to concentrate.

Yoga Self Care Tip #6 – Breath focused meditation

Most of us spend some portion of the day waiting. Instead of that being ‘lost’ time or being annoyed, can you turn it into an opportunity for a mini breath meditation?  I applied this during car line picking up my kids on this day.  In my yoga classes, I offer this technique for all that time you spend waiting in doctor’s offices.

 

Yoga Self Care Tip #7 – Create a UV kit

For the last day of our self-care challenge we focused on putting together a sun protection kit.  Many autoimmune diseases flare up with UV exposure and no one wants skin cancer either.  I live in FL so the UV index is often super high.  I keep sunscreen everywhere – my purse, every car, my swim bag, my kid’s backpacks. Every little bit helps.

 

Self Care is not just a 7-day challenge



Join the Aqua Yoga for Arthritis Course for a full kit of resources to manage your arthritis

I’ve taught 100’s of people in live classes and helped them achieve results that improved their daily lives like:

🧘 getting on and off the floor again

🤻 being able to use the stairs

🚶 ditching the assistive devices

👟 throwing out the sensible shoes

🧎 rehabbing after joint replacements,

🛌 and getting a decent night’s sleep.

And finally, I get to do that for you long-distance too. The Aqua Yoga for Arthritis course is the culmination of hundreds of hours of training geared towards exercise and pain management for arthritis. As well as my lived experience of managing multiple kinds of arthritis through yoga.

Yoga improves arthritis through more than movement and the course gives you a suite of resources to apply the full 8 limbs of yoga. From a professionally produced practice class for the days you feel good and want to build strength and flexibility, to a downloadable workbook for the days when a physical practice isn’t possible.

The resources are grounded in best practice from the science, in line with yoga philosophy, and approved by regular people bettering their lives with these techniques. I’m looking forward to working with you.


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  1. Christa:

    I have not had the pleasure of reading your posts before. Welcome to RDBlog week. I am a little behind but catching up. I am so glad you put sun protection in the list. I think it is a great reminder to all of us in the RD community. As a red head (I used to be anyway) I was sun burned with regularity for 30 years. My dermatologist reminds me often that I used 40 of my 9 lives by the time I was 35. I think it was actually 10 but who is counting.

    1. Rick – Thanks for your comments and reading! Sometimes we forget the little things. Yes, the sun can make our auto immune conditions worse but we’re like everyone else and don’t want skin cancer and sun damage either. One of my son’s is a redhead and the other’s a toehead so I’m a pusher of sunscreen. Thanks for organizing RDBlog week!

  2. This is just lovely and absolutely perfect. I run into so many people who wonder how they can do yoga with pretty severe autoimmune conditions. I’m keeping this in my back pocket to share in the future.

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