Pain, Acceptance, and Healing
With the early spring in Vermont this year, we are reminded of the prevalence of tick season. As you are out and about, please take precautions to protect yourself against tick-borne illnesses. Below Evolution teacher, Zach Wilson shares his experience and transformation working through Lyme disease. For more information on Lyme disease, please check out the CDC website.
Pain, Acceptance, and Healing
My journey with Lyme disease has been the biggest reality check of my life. It led me across a spectrum of emotions including sadness, loss, confusion, hope, acceptance, and eventually transformation. An insidious presentation of joint pain, partial joint dislocations, brain fog, skin rashes, transient nerve pain, short-term memory loss, and anemia with associated fatigue crept into my body and took grasp of my daily life. Unexplainable symptoms and limitations transitioned into feelings of sorrow and confusion. Why me? Why does it seem that doctors can’t figure out how to treat this? How do I even know it is Lyme if the tests are inconclusive?
As I tried my best to navigate the obscure world of lyme doctors, testing, and treatment, the more I took my healing into my own hands and did what intrinsically felt right. Diet change, activity modification, and a consistent yoga practice became my new daily routine. The practice of intentional and therapeutic asana, pranayama, meditation, and relaxation techniques became a big part of my medicine. Yoga provided the opportunity to modify asana poses with my changing needs and examine the subtleties of joint alignment and breathing mechanics during sun salutations and dirgha pranayama with extended inhalation and exhalation.
My experience with the symptoms of Lyme disease taught me how to slow down, adjust what can be changed, and accept what can’t. It taught me that I’m not invincible; it taught me empathy; it taught me how to move my body; it made me a better therapist and it brought me to the practice of yoga. Lyme disease was an unexpected teacher. It took years to shift my perspective, but I now consider this experience a gift.
Dirgha Pranayama – 3 part breath or Yogic Breath
Dirgha pranayama is from the Kripalu tradition. It’s referred to as the complete breath or the yogic breath. Dirgha pranayama includes diaphragmatic, thoracic, and clavicular breathing. This technique is foundational and prepares the practitioner for proper deep breathing. Some benefits include its harmonizing and calming effects.
To practice Dirgha pranayama:
- Sit tall and relax the jaw and throat.
- Inhale smoothly and steadily into the belly, rib cage, and collar bones.
- Exhale from the top down down, gently contracting the abdominal muscles at the bottom to squeeze all air out.
- This completes 1 cycle – continue fluid and rhythmic breath, avoiding force or strain
- Before transitioning to your next activity allow a few cycles of natural breathing