Yoga for Sickle Cell Health


<a href=””><img class=”alignleft size-thumbnail wp-image-1152″ title=”yoga” src=”×150.jpg” alt=”” width=”150″ height=”150″ /></a>If you have never tried yoga, there is a lot to know before your first class. The first thing to know is that the word yoga means <em>’to yoke</em>’. It translates into <span style=”text-decoration: underline;”>union</span>. You are uniting your mind and body. There are as many types of yoga as there are stars in the sky. You need to choose a yoga class that is close to your physical abilities. If you work out a lot you want to try a more vigorous class like Vinyasa which means flow. Each pose flows into the next pose. If you are an athlete you want to try Ashtanga or power yoga.

If you never workout and are not feeling good choose either a gentle class or a restorative class. Gentle yoga does yoga poses very slowly it repeats the pose, a few times, and does not hold the pose more than a few breaths. Restorative yoga, which I specialize in, puts you in a pose for about 5 minutes, but you are lying over a bolster or a blanket in a comfortable position trying not to fall alseep. It is very relaxing. It also gives you a very good stretch. There are restorative poses at the end of this article.

The benefits of yoga are increased flexiblity, and strength in your muscles. Yoga creates the relaxation response during shavassana (relaxation at the end of class) Shavassana also allows for muscle memory, for your muscles to remember what you learned during class. Yoga improves balance so if you fall, and we all at some point fall, you wonʼt injure yourself as badly. The strength you gain in yoga is unlike other forms of fitness, because in yoga you lift your body weight much like a push up. You gain more strength than you would lifting 10 pound weights.

Yoga also incorporates breathing, and depending on what type of yoga you are using it could incorporate kirtan (chanting) and many other modalities. Meditation is very helpful, and good for people with sickle cell. It really gets you out of your head, and to stop thinking aboutyour problems. It also takes you away from your pain. I can put myself into a meditative state and the pain of a crisis does not hurt quite as bad. However this takes training, and I have been meditating for over 30 years.<!–more–>

The reason I recommend that you choose a class is because if you go to class and learn the fundamental principles of yoga. Like proper form and alignment you will have an easier time, than most students I see. Most students start yoga by doing yoga classes on television or a video. Which is fine if you know what you are doing. If you don’t know what you are doing, itʼs harder to unlearn bad form than to learn good form from the beginning.

Itʼs very frustrating for students who have done videos to come to class and learn the proper way to do a yoga pose. I train people to be yoga teachers, and I specialize in destination yoga vacations. I also teach people who really need yoga, people with illnesses. I work in a doctors office and treat patients with various illness with restorative yoga.

As someone with sickle cell I have learned that yoga is very healing. The reason I became a yoga teacher trainer was to know more about yoga. As a yoga student I realized the effects of yoga were dramatic, and life changing, thats why I initially decided to do yoga teacher training, and become a yoga teacher. Then what I learned and taught was so healing for me and others that after a few years I entered a higher training to train people to be yoga teachers.

What I want to caution against is loyalty to one type of yoga. After people have done yoga for a long period of time they tend to develop a loyalty to their particular type of yoga. What is wrong with this? If you are loyal to one type of yoga you miss the benefits of other types of yoga. What I mean is if you are loyal to your type of yoga. You miss doing hot yoga after an illness to remove the toxins. You miss the opportunity to do kundalini and get out of your head. Kundalini gets you to stop thinking and worrying. You miss doing restorative yoga when ill, or pranayama (breathing) to calm the mind, which could be used in traffic or during a sickle cell crisis to calm your body.

If you are looking for a yoga class I recommend that you look for a yoga studio and find a qualified instructor with the designation of Registered yoga teacher. You can look up a good teacher at <a href=”” target=”_blank”></a>.

Yoga and meditation will also give you a sense of gratitude about your body for all you are able to do with it. Here are a few restorative yoga poses to get your started I am using yoga bolsters, but you could use a sofa pillow or a few blankets rolled to get the same effect. A sofa pillow would be more like a bolster and not give as much.

I also have an introduction to yoga on my website, <a href=”” target=”_blank”>Peaceful Lotus</a>. Check out the introduction video. Try holding  each pose for five minutes.

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