Chair Yoga and Chronic Pain

The nine months before my systemic lupus diagnosis were nine very painful months. The pain was debilitating on so many levels: sleep, thinking, eating, walking. There was literally nothing I could do.
I was admitted to the hospital a month after onset of symptoms, which kicked-off a series of investigative tests to figure out what had gone wrong to make me feel this way.
During those nine painful months I celebrated my first wedding anniversary, went on holiday to Corsica and on a long weekend trip to Florence in Italy.
I tried so hard to live my life, to return to work, to feel normal. Maybe because I was faced with disbelief and negative attitudes that mostly suggested “I should just get on with it”. No one really understood the struggle, or was able to provide adequate support.

So when I was speaking to Elaine. Oyang, a yoga therapist with experience of working with people living with chronic pain, I’m transported back to that painful time before my lupus diagnosis.
From the onset of our discussion Elaine raises some very interesting points:

  • Every person with these experiences has different symptoms , which are also unpredictable from one day to the next.
  • Yoga is multilayered and it is not just about beautiful big poses and movement, but also about breathing. When working with people living with chronic pain it is wise to start with the breath.
    It facilitates gentle movement and has great potential to tame pain responses in the body.
  • People living with chronic pain want to be listened, they want people to understand. As a yoga teacher providing a safe place of acceptance and keeping an open mind to learn from the students is key to building trusting relationships and starting their healing journey.
  • Chair yoga is accessible , versatile and familiar and can remove many barriers to a regular yoga practice, including time. So you do not have to be less able to start practising yoga now where you sit.

Listen to the podcast here:

About Elaine
About Elaine

Elaine Oyang is a C-IAYT yoga therapist and E-RYT 500 yoga teacher with more than 10 years of teaching experience. Her approach to teaching yoga is that of a non-strenuous and easeful effort, believing more in an “undoing” of tension patterns rather than “doing” poses to ease physical and mental challenges for her students. Her personal yoga journey over the last 16 years have helped her resolve mental and physical stress from being a Type-A, people-pleasing, overly-ambitious, perfectionist. She enjoys working with women who experience and struggle with the stress of this identity, using yoga therapy as a means to cultivate self-compassion and self-nurture.