Friday, September 16, 2016

Bee Content Yoga - Lupus and Chronic Illness, featuring Christa Fairbrother, Guest Blogger

I am thrilled to bring you a series of guest posts from Christa Fairbrother, owner of Bee Content Yoga, and Program Director for Yoga for Arthritis. Below she shares valuable information about why yoga is so good for chronic illness. She speaks from personal experience, as she uses yoga to help manage her own diagnosis of Mixed Connective Tissue Disease. You can find out more about her company and philosophy on her websiteThis is a two part series, so be sure to check back for her second post at the end of the month. 



10 Benefits of Yoga for people with 
chronic illness
There are over 20 million people in the US now practicing yoga. That’s almost 10% of the population. You might be in the other 90%. That 90% is made up of people who have some vague idea that yoga might be good, who’ve maybe read an article or talked to someone, as well as people who think yoga is a waste of time unless you’re a dancer and it’s all woo woo anyway.
I’m the Program Director for Yoga for Arthritis which is an evidence based training program for yoga teachers to help people with rheumatic diseases in yoga classes.  In the spirit of evidence based, I wanted to give you a checklist of the potential benefits of yoga to people with lupus.  
Notice I already rolled out potential.  The impacts of yoga have not been studied on lupus patients.  When I say yoga reduces pain, it’s been shown to reduce pain but not specifically in lupus patients, just in the general population or people with a similar condition.  Until there are studies on how yoga impacts lupus, we have to infer.  So please keep in mind the limitations of the evidence as well as the strength of common sense.
Yoga reduces pain – Yoga has been to shown to reduce pain in a wide array of chronic diseases such as arthritis, fibromyalgia and chronic back pain.
Yoga reduces inflammation.
Yoga reduces stress.
Yoga increases disease coping skills.
Yoga reduces fatigue.
Yoga reduces depression.
Yoga reduces anxiety.
Yoga strengthens relationships.
Yoga reduces insomnia and improves sleep quality.
Yoga improves digestion.
These 10 benefits focus on impacts more likely to be encountered by someone with a chronic illness. Yoga does increase flexibility, range of motion and strength of course also.  While people with lupus might appreciate those benefits as well, some of these chronic issues are more impactful day to day for us.
Achieving all these benefits through yoga is extremely safe.  This 2015 meta-analysis of yoga research showed yoga is no more unsafe than basically being alive.  Each of these links is to a recent, peer-reviewed journal.  Yoga has gone mainstream and the research is beginning to catch up.  The gold standard however is how it makes you feel.  Give yoga a try.  My next guest post is about how to choose a class.  Do a little research, go to class and enjoy the benefits yourself.
About Christa – I am a RYT-200 who specializes in working with those with chronic health challenges.  I came to this work after a lifetime of yoga practice and a rheumatic diagnosis myself, Mixed Connective Tissue Disease.  I am also a Certified Yoga for Arthritis instructor and the Program Director for Yoga for Arthritis.  While Yoga for Arthritis primarily serves arthritis patients, it does encompass the full suite of rheumatic conditions.  They did a small pilot study on Yoga as a Form of Self-Care in Systematic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) which they would like to expand and publish.  Please feel free to reach out or connect with me further.
Yoga for Arthritis website

4 comments:

christa fairbrother said...

Thanks for posting this! Thrilled to contribute.

Giftbearer said...

I can imagine that yoga would be good for many chronic illnesses, especially because it is very gentle on joints and muscles and stretching helps reduce pain.

Sara Gorman said...

Thank YOU for the great piece!

Sara Gorman said...

Stretching is so key, isn't it? As I age :(, I find that stretching makes me feel so rejuvenated!