Chronic Pain & Yoga: My Journey

By María –

I have had migraines for as long as I can remember. I have had to learn how to cope with an invisible and disabling disease while trying to live a normal life. Yoga has become a key element when seeking relief.

I first started visiting my local yoga studio in my early twenties in Caracas, Venezuela where I was born and raised. I was in college and a friend invited me to come to class and give it a try. I asked myself two questions, “why not?” And, “what is the worst that can happen?”

I had always been a little curious about the whole yoga thing, so I decided to give it a try. People always talked about the benefits of yoga and chronic pain so it seemed like a good opportunity. What I knew about yoga at the time was what most people know: essentially nothing.

Once you open the yoga door it can lead down a rabbit hole. I had always been very flexible and yogis were too, so that was a good thing, right? Maybe not so much. But that is a story that deserves another article. The point is that from day one I got hooked on the practice. I soon realized that I had found an activity that challenged my body but at the same time it challenged my mind. I didn’t know at that time that eventually it would also challenge spiritually.

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I did not become a ‘yogi’ right away. I visited studios two or three times a week. I certainly never thought I would become a yoga teacher or that I would dedicate my life to teaching this practice and philosophy.

About ten years after I had my first taste of yoga I had to move from Venezuela to the United States with my family. Since then, my migraines got really bad for no apparent reason. I saw many doctors but unfortunately did not find relief. After western medicine failed me, I decided to come back to yoga. After moving I had stopped practicing for awhile. I found this amazing place with incredible teachers and students and decided to make myself and my wellbeing priority number one. Not too long after practicing yoga in the US I had the opportunity to advance my personal practice to a deeper level. My studio was offering yoga teacher training. After a brief personal debate I chose to take the training to change the path of my life. It certainly did! What a life changing decision!

Today I am dedicated to sharing this journey with others. To practice something that I am passionate about in a professional level. I love my students and seeing them grow through the practice.

Yoga did not cure me. I did not find pain relief from my yoga practice. Nutrition and healthy food have made a huge difference. Most people do find relief once they start practicing daily but that was not the case for me. However, it has taught me so many other invaluable things that have helped me overcome my disease.

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The most beneficial lesson I have learned is to know how to cope with daily migraines and health issues with contentment. Sounds weird I know, but it is about finding ease and peace even through the hardest times. Here are a few examples of the lessons I have learned since I started practicing consistently:

 

– Yoga is not about the physical practice. A part of it undoubtedly is but there is so much more to it that I still do not know (and am eager to learn!)

– Always be a student. Stay humble. The more you learn, the more you become aware of your ignorance.

– Live the present moment. Worrying about the past or the future will only take away today’s peace of mind.

– You are what you think. Our reality or the lives we live are fed from our thoughts so keep them nice and healthy.

– There’s there is always room for growth. Always seek for personal growth by continuously learning from our lives’ lessons and moving on.

– Let go of what no longer serves you. Everything without exception in life is transient. Learn, grow and if it does not serve you let it go for good.

– A healthy mind and a healthy body equals a balanced life. Take good care of yourself. Make yourself a priority.

– Challenge yourself on a regular basis. Step out of your comfort zone.

– Keep an open mind. Always try to see the bigger picture.

– Shift your perspective. Understand every angle of any given situation. Put yourself in other people’s shoes.

By learning these lessons and applying them to my daily life I can say that I am a very different person today. I feel more confident and more prepared for any curve ball that life wants to throw at me.

Work on the Self is always a hard and time consuming job. It can even be scary at times but it is so worth it. Try it and the consequences will be bigger than expected!

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