Sometimes people just "get" yoga and it quickly becomes clear that it is going to play an important part in their lives.
"Emily", a student with multiple and complex health issues, declared that yoga had completely transformed her life after just her third yoga class.
As a teacher these are the most special of occasions, knowing that you have played a part empowering a student, helped start them on their yoga journey and then observing their progress. Yoga is always empowering because it is something that we do ourselves rather than something that someone else does for or to us.
This case study describes how yoga has helped her so far...
Emily (not her real name) has had a very positive response to her introduction to yoga which she volunteered during her third yoga class.
Emily felt that she had been searching for something over the years but was not sure what that was and had tried numerous different therapies including acupuncture, Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS), physiotherapy, epidurals, massage, lotions, potions and prescribed medication. She now believes that yoga was what she was searching for.
Both mentally and physically Emily now finds herself in a better place. She has been able to cut down her day-to-day reliance on painkillers by using chin mudra, a yoga breathing technique, for pain management. Emily finds that after a yoga class she can go down the stairs 'normally' rather then one foot at a time. She feels tired after yoga and the day after but a good tired, as in relaxed rather than exhausted. Rather than being anxious about what the future may bring, she has now found a state of calm through yoga, which gently roots us in the here and now via the breath, and is now looking to extend this from her yoga practice into her daily life.
Emily previously had a stressful working environment as a Project Manager in the Prison Service, where she dealt with with families and visitors to the establishment until retiring after 17 years there.
Coming to yoga classes has also motivated Emily to start driving again on a more regular basis. Emily finds the social aspect of the classes a bonus, just meeting and talking to other people is great. Since first joining the class Emily has clocked up 9 classes in a row (and went on to attend 22 in a row before going on an overseas holiday for a week), both an achievement in itself and testimony to how valuable she finds them.
Emily has chronic and sometimes unbearable lower back pain resulting from disc wear in her lower back permitting bone on bone contact. She also has a very worn disc at the top of her neck which is easier to manage, but can still be very painful. Following a broken ankle she was incapacitated for 5 months and put on 5 stone in weight. She recognises that this is aggravating her lower back problem, has just started attending Slimming World and was pleased to be able to share with the rest of the class that she had lost 5.5lbs in her first week.
Emily has COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and the focus we place on the breath in yoga can be very helpful for this condition. She also has fibromyalgia, a condition which varies from day-to-day but can cause pain variously in hands, wrists, knees and ankles.
Emily has sleep apnoea and wears a mask when sleeping in conjunction with a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine. She hated wearing the mask and used to unconsciously throw it off during the night. By practising relaxation just before going to sleep, she now manages to keep herself in a calm state of mind and now keeps the mask on nearly every night until waking and feeling refreshed and better in the morning. No more falling asleep during the day!
Emily is regaining her confidence and finding decision making easier once more, rather than putting things off for fear of making the wrong call. She has also learnt how to empty the mind, a new concept for her. Her asthma is better controlled, she believes by having learned to breathe better. She also used to make 'emotional purchases' online of items that she did not need to make her feel better, but is now saving rather than spending and giving modest amounts to charities rather than wasting money on unwanted purchases.
Emily feels very positive and happy that she has now started to move forward and progress to better health and truly believes that next year at this time she will be a very different person. Yoga has helped Emily in so much that she has now introduced a friend to the class and says, "She is on much the same journey as I am to change her lifestyle and move forward in positive ways."