How Yoga Saved My Life
Many years ago, I would have laughed if someone had told me that I was going to turn into a Yogi. That was little more than seven years ago, and looking back, I don’t know how I ever lived without my Yoga practice.
Understand that I have difficulty enough sitting in one spot for more than thirty seconds, let alone maintaining a series of postures and holding them for any period of time. Back then, it was a thousand times worse. And connecting with my breath? You could forget it! I was so disconnected from the patterns of my breath that I thought it was normal to cling to a shallow, laboured strain of air. Yoga was nothing more than a passing fad in my eyes, and it certainly wasn’t my cup of tea.
When I entered the Acting Program at Dalhousie University, I was surprised to find that Yoga was a part of our curriculum. Not fully understanding the connection between our work as actors and the Yogic breath, I went along with it all, disheartened by how challenging it was for me. It was hard work! My joints ached, my bones creaked, and my mind would not stay still. I did the work, but I did not like it one bit.
For some miraculous reason, Yoga kept finding me. It found me when I worked for Lululemon Athletica some months later and it was waiting for me when I finally realized that I needed to find time and space to breathe and become connected to my aching body. I started doing Yoga once a week and was absolutely thrilled to not only find that I was making progress, but also to discover that my body was feeling much better!
When I moved to Toronto, I went to the Doctor for a routine physical. Everything seemed to be fine until my blood test came through and an abnormality was discovered; my iron was really high. This indicated a disease called Hemochromatosis, a genetic blood disorder in which iron crystallizes in some of the major organs, ultimately causing organ damage or failure. It also explained the pain and creaks that I had been feeling in my joints for so many years.
I was rushed to the hospital and treatments began immediately. Throughout the process, it became difficult to summon up the energy to do the traditional full body workout that I was used to doing. I turned again to Yoga and found an incredible strength that I never knew existed. By focusing on Yin, Restorative, and Gentle Hatha Yoga, I was able to give my muscles an excellent stretch while maintaining the care of my joints that I wouldn’t find with other exercises.
Aside from the physical benefits, I found a significant change in my mental well-being. As my practice became part of my every day life, I found that I regained my optimistic attitude and the stability I needed to move past my illness. My emotions became more balanced and with the help of my regular Yoga practice, I knew that I could beat the disease and become a happier, healthier person!
I am pleased to report that my iron levels are down to normal and that my treatments are less frequent. I feel better than ever in mind, body, and soul, and a great deal of my vitality is thanks to the practice of Yoga. I am grateful for my health and for the journey it has taken me on. And I will never leave Yoga behind again.
Contributing author:Lauren Messervey.
Lauren is the social media coordinator for Yoga Tree. An avid Yogi with a love for Tree Pose, she is originally from Atlantic Canada and joined the bustling city of Toronto in June of last year. You may find her in the Midtown region, practicing Yoga or blogging for Yoga Tree. She is currently completing her first novel, set to be released Spring 2014.