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Today -21st June is International Yoga Day

I have been practicing yoga for the last 15 years and it has helped me to focus on my breathing and building awareness of my mind-body connection.

Over the years I have seen that in addition to the physical benefits, yoga has reduced my stress and anxiety levels through the breathing exercises and meditation. A certain amount of mental clarity and stillness comes across and the mood improvements has surely assisted me in coping my RA.

I remember my early specialized yoga practitioners used to mention something to this extent that Yoga facilitates the mind’s capacity to affect bodily function and symptoms mediated through a variety of downstream pathways and bring about natural immunological tolerance. I never understood the holistic underlying meaning beneath these statements those days but looking back today it does have its roots in its efficacy!

The gentle yoga exercises do help us to focus on our body’s natural tendency to heal itself and find balance.

I suggest discussing yoga with your doctor before giving it a try and then, once you get started, always listen to your body. If it feels like a stretch, that is a good thing, but if it hurts, the pose may not be right for you.

In my beginner’s class and sometimes till date, I always use props such as blocks, pillows or rolled up towels whenever I need support.

No matter what type of yoga you decide to try, I would say it is better to begin with a qualified practitioner. Save the yoga videos for later date, when you’re more confident with your yoga practice. If possible, find an instructor who has experience working with people with chronic conditions like arthritis.

To summarize I would say that socializing is a component of group yoga practices that has motivated me to seek out yoga classes, and currently this aspect of my yoga classes has been particularly beneficial to me.

The face-to-face socializing yoga class, in addition to reducing pain and enhancing my mobility, has always offered me a mood-boosting camaraderie!

Due to COVID – 19 pandemic, most yoga practitioners around the world have shut down the yoga studios and turned to limited home practices and online yoga classes. Hence, International Yoga Day 2020 mostly will be celebrated through digital media all over the globe due to the pandemic and lock-down imposed.

Happy Yoga Day to you and all my Dancing Yogis out there !

“The body benefits from movement, and the mind benefits from stillness” – Sakyong Mipham

Embrace the pace of your own journey!

In my previous post, I had mentioned that I will share my pacing tool kits and thought process which I use to combat my RA pain and fatigue.

Here you go…

The minute I get up in the morning, I can visually gauge my days activities based on the early morning fatigue and pain levels if any and resort to having an internal dialogue (self-talk) and see the expectations !..it might seem strange to some but the more you listen to your inward self the more one is in control and you can navigate accordingly.

In Pacing I find the right balance of my day’s activities and rest for my RA condition. I must admit that with pacing, I have learnt to live my life according to a tentative plan rather than in response to the symptoms, thereby I feel I have a sense of managing RA rather than RA controlling me.

However, Pacing is the key….it depends how I pull the gears and pace the day.

Basically, its energy conservation methodology…based on listening to your body and gut feel.

My Planning & Thought Process;

Once I visually plan and allocate, on execution I start pacing myself. I start doing the activities and take small breaks in between.

I avoid rushing any tasks and drive it at my own pace… Sometimes I avoid doing the bed as soon as I get up …or delay the laundry…I ask myself …is it the end of the world if I do not do it at that very moment?  No…according to me .. it is not!

Is anyone going to come for inspection   …No…definitely not …so I pace it at my convenience.

Pacing is difficult…it takes discipline. It takes self-control. Pacing is an art which is honed over a period of time rather than a science; I just try to be creative and pace myself.

If I feel I cannot do it, I don’t push myself too much…I am not competing with anyone. I am quite assertive in this area and do not have any guilt pangs…asking for help if its needed.

Pacing myself through activities:

It is like an activity switching tool… I have found keeps my concentration and energy levels intact, I break my activities like if I need to cook , I will cut, chop take a break watch a you tube talk show and go back to continuing cooking and again go and do some reading/writing/office work , rest and finally return to complete the final steps. This way my physical movements are not overworked and I maintain my pace and able to complete my other to do lists through the day. Activity switching among social, physical and mental activities is a super blend combo which has become a part and parcel of my life. A point to be noted..on non flareup days ..I do not over do things…

Over time I have realized that although the size of my teaspoons is normal with pacing, I manage to collect more space in those same spoons and these normal tea spoons literally feel like huge table spoons! That is my biggest takeaway from my PACING tool!

Seeking and honoring my limits in contrast has only expanded my activity levels and in a position to flatten the roller coaster ride that RA brings along with it!

Life is . . . not about counting the losses and the lost expectations, but rather swimming and pacing ourselves, with as much grace as can be mustered, in the joy of all of it… let me admit, this thought process is easy said than done. If I do not implement it in my daily life no one will implement it for me…so here I am advocating what I do as an RA Warrior!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The spoon theory that has helped navigate my RA journey!

 

Today I am going to share a known arthritic toolkit…the Spoon Theory and how it has been an indispensable part of my RA journey.

In one of the early workshops I had attended on Pain Management I was introduced to the SPOON THEORY, which most of you must have heard about it. This was the analogy that was first introduced by Christine Miserandino in 2003. It was just a year after I was diagnosed with RA!

The Spoon Theory has been circulated worldwide since Miserandino first shared it. Many people now call themselves “spoonies” and our warrior tool is the spoon!

Personally, When I was introduced to this concept, I was grateful. Finally, I felt I had a way to explain my endless fatigue to my extended family, friends and office colleagues. Sometimes it is hard to express our feelings. Finding the right words to describe our feelings can be just as frustrating as the feeling itself. With this theory in mind, positive communication while promoting our own self-care can be as simple as ‘spoons’.

I speak at various conferences and workshops and many ask me to describe what a typical day for me is like, and I immediately say, “Have you heard of the Spoon Theory?”. I recapitulate it for them and tell them to surf and find out for themselves. What I experience is immediately the audience is able to relate to it …and they share a statement saying “Oh really. Now, I get it.”!

Normal people begin their day with limitless energy levels, that they are raring to go. Whereas Warriors like us have our own daily limitations.

The minute my eyes open in the morning a visual body Xray is done and I am aware of my energy and pain levels which I equate it to how many spoons I have.

I normally assign 12 spoons for a day, which in normal times without a flare up, covers up my basic routine activities.

On a flare up day my basic activities become a real struggle and need meticulous allocation of my energy spoons. By doing this simple allocation in my mind I have visually charted the course of my day. Hence the feeling of helplessness or frustration is on a very low scale as predetermined activities that can be attended to are taken care of on priority basis.

My daughter will always check with my spoon levels for the day. And without saying anything just by the number of spoons I mention, she understands how my day would be and accommodates her presence and involvement around me through my day!

Each activity I need to attend to is given the number of spoons by assessing my pain and feelings accordingly and the rest are carried forward for the next day!

It has been my indispensable partner on this journey ..thank you my one dozen spoons !

Be a Happy Spoonie and pace up your lives as per your daily spoons!

Next update on how I pace myself for a day and the thought process behind it! See you soon….

 

 

Pursed Lips Breathing Exercise

The technique requires a person to inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth at a slow controlled flow.

Basic Step-By-Step process:

  • Relax your neck and shoulders.
  • Inhale slowly through the nostrils for two seconds (keep your mouth closed), a deep breath is unnecessary a normal breath will do just fine.
  • Exhale through the mouth for four seconds (the extended time is the key). When exhaling, pucker your mouth as if giving a kiss.
  • While breathing out, keep a slow and steady breath; don’t breathe out hard.

Benefits of Pursed Lips Breathing

The Pursed Lips Breathing method offers significant mental and physical benefits. For example, it can help in the following ways:

Releases trapped air in the lungs

Keeps the airways open longer and eases breathing

Prolongs exhalation to slow the breathing rate

Improves breathing patterns by moving old air out of the lungs and allowing new air to enter

Relieves shortness of breath

Promotes relaxation…

You can practice this exercise through the day by simply breathing in through your nose followed by breathing out through your mouth, while your lips are pursed, for twice as long as you breathed in.

Suggest try it my fellow arthritic warriors , these are simple exercises and feel the difference!

 

Breathing Exercises – Improve Lung Functionality in these tough times

We as Arthritic Warriors are aware building & maintaining muscles can be only done through our regular exercise regime.

This week we just concentrate on LUNG HEALTH !

Our prime concentration should be on the muscles in the neck, chest and the diaphragm. The part between the ribs is another vital area.

Regular exercise pattern will keep our lung health at its optimum peak.

Overall Oxygen delivery levels get more efficient.

I have been practicing breathing exercise for the last 15 years… and I clearly remember my trainers spelling this loud and clear …Out with the old, stale air and in with new fresh air.

That’s the theme of the two most useful breathing exercises—pursed lip breathing and belly breathing which I have been practicing … will discuss in detail in my next update…

Why Breathing Exercises Can Help Arthritic Warriors!

Around eighty percent of inhaling and exhaling is done by our diaphragm. We are all aware the diaphragm is a thin skeletal muscle that sits at the base of the chest and separates the abdomen from the chest.

When you inhale, your diaphragm contracts (tightens) and moves downward. This creates more space in your chest cavity, allowing the lungs to expand. When you exhale, the opposite happens — your diaphragm relaxes and moves upward in the chest cavity.

When you are ill with an ailment that impacts the lungs, this elasticity can be affected. Often, air is not fully expelled in this case and stale air builds up in the lungs leaving less room for the diaphragm to contract and bring in fresh oxygen. The body will attempt to compensate by using other muscle groups, but this can only do so much and overall oxygen levels decrease.

Hence, we as Arthritic Warriors need to indulge ourselves in regular breathing exercises which can greatly assist in helping lungs shift the accumulated stale air, increasing oxygen levels and ensuring the diaphragm can work efficiently.

Next update will be on the common two-tier breathing approach …Watch out!