Me, My UC (Ulcerative Colitis), and Yoga

I had trouble starting this biography. My mother had asked me to write an article talking about IBD-Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis-and yoga. Particularly something that would help people find the benefits in it, as well as to share my own story. As I began to write this article, I found that it was growing too large. Thus to help ease the pain I decided to write a bio, that would incorporate my journey with yoga and UC.
Here it goes:
At this moment, I am charged with sharing the benefits and the way yoga helped me in my journey with a chronic illness. One thing I will point out off the bat, yoga opens doors to health lifestyles. Yes I had been wanting (and finally became) a vegetarian before I got into gear with yoga, but it was the practice that eventually got me to renounce all animal products and made me healthy.
Diet and yoga go hand in hand, often time one leading into the other. I was about eight or nine years old when I first tried to become a vegetarian; it was much harder back then as the organic fad had not taken place. My mother tried her best to honor my wishes, but for a sick and picky growing child it was hard to introduce substitute protein, and eventually I went back to eating meat. Once in eighth grade, we had moved to a larger populated area–aka out of the sticks and into the city–and lo, there was Bocca burgers available! The start down a vegetarian diet started again, slowly, with beef and pork. A year later I stopped eating anything with a face.
Threw out this period of my life I practiced yoga on and off, switching days between yoga and belly dancing, waking up in the mornings to do either. However it was in my Junior year that my lower back went out. I was reaching down to pick up my over weight backpack, and I could not get back up again. After three days of laying on the floor, unable to move my limbs, we all knew what we had to do. Call the doctor, go to the specialist, run tests, etc. same drill new symptoms.
Wether or not my back injury was related to my UC, I never really found out nor cared to. What was important was I had new pills, and these pills interrupted my life. I was prescribed physical therapy, and every painkiller and muscle relaxer short of Oxycotten and Roxycotten. Again, it was all very mysterious.
My childhood aversion to pills never went away, so again I took my illness into my own hands and said, “ENOUGH!” I began down the path of drug-free recovery, I went back to my mat.
Yoga saved my health, my ability to move, and my over all person. As the years went on I slipped further and further down the rabbit hole, until about two years ago I enrolled in Teacher Training.
Now yoga teacher trainings are regulated by the Yoga Alliance, and have specified amount of work that one must accomplish, adding up to 200 hours dedicated to yoga. My teacher training went further, we completed 288 hours of yoga, including volunteer work, class training, going to classes, observation, discussions, and much more.
The program was designed to created an inspired practice within all of us to allow a deepened Spirit connection. This is where I learned more and more about how yoga influences the practices we make off the mat; and how there are things beyond our control. Both very important things to talk about when having a chronic illness.
“Yoga is amazing, because it is a physical practice that will change your life off the mat.” This was said to me by one of my teachers at an Astanga studio, . He stressed to his students that yoga was the door that opened into a better life off and on the matt, and this practice was one that had transformed his stressful, unhealthy lifestyle into something that left him stress free, with better lifestyle then he ever thought to find himself in.
Yoga also teaches the act of surrender. Surrender is the main thought that flows in the studio that I did my TT at, every instructor there would remind us that there are things in this life that we can not control, and that being stressed out about it changes nothing.
These two lessons I brought with me when I began teaching for a group call Higher Ground, a organization to help HIV and AIDS patients and awareness. This was the most amazing and inspire group of people I have ever met. I not only was teaching them once a week, but also ended up going on a retreat with them as their yoga instructor.
Working with this group of amazing people, as well as my own illness, taught me some beautiful things about Yoga and Chronic illness that run across the board. Mainly knowing that place where there was an ego, and there was the body. There are moments of intense healing, and there are ways to open up the body, mind and the soul to these.
Most importantly Higher Ground taught me just how important the word surrender is; I have my past and present with UC, they have their past and present with HIV and AIDS, there is nothing that either of us could do to change these situations. Did that stop us form all the wonderful things we did and want to do with our lives? Absolutely not!
We could not change the fact that we all had a past, and problems in the present, but we could do something about the future, and how we lived our lives now. We surrendered and understood that we were not to blame for this, nor were we being punished by some being in the Universe. This beautiful group of people taught me that there are things we can control, and things we can not control, control what you can, and leave the rest.

At a very young age, lets just say birth, I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis (UC), a chronic, autoimmune, digestive disease that affects only the colon-unlike its sister, Crohn’s which effects the entire digestive tract. After many battles and tests, at the age of five I finally went into remission and just barley missing ending up with an Ostmey bag.
Flash forward about five years, when my doctors decided that it was a good idea to just do a quick check on me and ordered yet another colonoscopy. My GI was so impressed with my miraculous turn around, that, if all went well, he was going to write a whole study on me. Of course, things did not go well, and they found moderate dysplasia in two sections of my colon. The decision was then made to take it all out, and in time too! For the dysplasia had gone up two stages and had moved to all of my colon.
Finally, I was left with a J-Pouch–or a small pouch of small intestine to replace the actions of the colon–in the winter of 98 at the ripe old age of ten. Well anyone with a pouch will tell you, there is a chance that the pouch will begin to take on every aspect of the colon it can, including mimicking the UC.
So then for more years I was pumped with every remedy, both chemical and natural, that both my doctor and my mother could think of; just to stop the flares. It was not until I was a sophomore in high school, suffering from unexplained chronic migraines, that I made the decision to go vegan that everything went away.
At this point I had been practicing yoga on and off from the time I was about nine or ten years old, had adopted a vegetarian diet, and had done enough of my own analysis to know exactly what to do. I was growing into an adult, and was sick of everyone making the choices for me, I took my sickness into my own hands and said, “ENOUGH!”
Flash forward another ten years. Now I am turning twenty-four, been medicine free for almost ten years, symptom free for about the same, and blessed to have a healthy and deepening practice in yoga.

As my practice deepens, and I let go of what I thought were limitations. I want to help the world and give back for the beauty that is my life, by introducing the benefits and healthy lifestyle that accompanies a good yoga practice. Eventually I want to grow my practice and spend some time in India, in order to bring back much of the healing to my home city of Detroit; which is in desperate need of healing right now.

Well theres a little about me! Aum Shanti Aum Shanti Aum Shanti! Enjoy!

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31 Responses to Me, My UC (Ulcerative Colitis), and Yoga

  1. ROHTOPIA says:

    What a great post, thank you and may you get better and better!

    Like

  2. Karin C. says:

    Hello. I am a yoga instructor and one of my students is suffering from chrons colitis. i wanted to ask if there are specific position that helped your symptoms?!… I was thinking Marichyasana? or any pose that helps tone and stimulates the abdomen or will it aggravate the symptoms?!… i really want to help her go back to practice and hope you have an answer from your experience. Thank you for sharing your story πŸ™‚

    Namaste,

    Karin C.

    Like

    • 8petallotus says:

      Karin,
      There are many yoga moves that can help your student, I will look in my archives as I do have a flow that I worked out for IBD a while back. Further let her know that be delving into her practice there is hope for not only health life but also one without meds. I will check and have something posted for you tonight
      Thanks for reading!

      Like

  3. Karin C. says:

    Thank you for your quick reply!

    Much appreciated πŸ™‚

    Like

  4. Kristin says:

    I suffer from UC too, diagnosed at age 19, 8 years ago….. Still got my colon though, but wouldn’t if my doctor had his way….
    I’ve only taken one yoga class in college and frankly, I hated it. The poses the instructor was (literally physically forcing me into, I’m not flxible at all) hurting my wrists so badly I walked out of the class! I’ve been doing some poses to help with joint paint and stiffness from blogs and videos I’ve found on the internet and am ready to give it another try!! I always thought it would significantly help my symptoms so thanks for this post πŸ™‚

    Like

    • 8petallotus says:

      For sure girl! I know how hard it can be to find what works for you. Keep in mind, ‘if it hurts don’t do it!’ My instructors and I have always stressed this point; yoga is about slowly opening nothing should ever be forced. Keep it up!

      Like

  5. Karin C. says:

    Dear Kristin,

    As a practitioner and a yoga instructor i wanna tell you, i am so happy you decided to give it another try. My Yoga journey wasn’t easy and it took me some time to accept my body limitation. Once i started accepting and wasn’t led by my ego anymore but by my heart i really started understanding my true needs and then my body started opening up, the more my heart opened the more my body softens, it all came from a place of acceptance.
    Let your heart lead you, and never be forced to do anything that doesn’t feel right, especially if the body hurts, you should listen to it and move mindfully, i can only understand why you didn’t like your first class and i wish your first experience would have been a better one. I am sure it will be different this time, mostly because you are open to try it again, your heart is open πŸ™‚
    I am wishing you all the best in your journey of getting in touch with yourself in deeper ways and taking good care of your well being.

    Namaste,

    Karin

    Like

    • Kristin says:

      Thanks guys! I’ve been feeling the urge to try this for some time, and take my attitude and approach towards UC in a new way. “Traditional” medicine just isn’t cutting it for me anymore…..Support and validation helps so thanks!!

      Like

  6. yoga says:

    I am glad I came across your site. I really enjoy gaining knowledge everyday and your site did just that. Thank you for the post.

    Like

  7. Allison says:

    Thank you for taking the time to write this. I have had UC for 13 years and the last two har been awful. I have heard wonderful things about yoga so I googled yoga and UC and your was the first article I read. I have no idea where to start but so happy to hear that there is potential NATURAL relief ahead.

    Thanks again,
    Allison

    Like

    • 8petallotus says:

      There are many things that can be done to help as natural cures go. I have had much luck with diet as well as pressure points, and Indian medicine. Everyone is different so you must walk your own path but the advise of others gives you arrows of where to head. Keep good track of what you try and how it works for you and be flexible with your treatments, what works for years might not tomorrow, and vice versa. ❀

      Like

  8. Gabriele says:

    Hi, after reading this amazing piece of writing i am also glad
    to share my know-how here with colleagues.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Garima says:

    I feel like I see a ray of light after reading this artical. I am 32 and suffering from UC since last 12 years. Can you please guide me what all Yoga poses to practice? I will be really grateful to you.

    Like

    • 8petallotus says:

      I would love to! I have a sample flow within my blogs as well. I will give you a quick crash course and then work on a second flow in these coming weeks. I will tell you to watch out for poses that focus on laying on the front, mainly wheel and locus. Second I would want to have you be very aware of your flares in conjunction with twists. To the right will loosen you up to the left will help stop you up. Also please please please be aware of the idea, if it hurts do not do it!

      Hope all is well and be on the look out! I am glad I can give you some hope to reach for, do not worry it always gets better ❀

      Like

  10. chintan says:

    Hi. Can you suggest me some yoga excercise for Crohn’s disease. My wife is 32 and diagnosed with Crohn’s disease since one year.
    Thank you.

    Like

  11. Amanda says:

    Is there a yoga DVD for colitid?

    Like

  12. Amanda says:

    Is there a yoga DVD for colitis?

    Like

  13. Ganesh says:

    Nice and inspiring blog, dear friend! Thanks for following “Known is a drop, Unknown is an Ocean”. πŸ™‚

    Like

  14. khurram says:

    Hi

    Im a 28 yeat old male. I’ve had ulcerative colitis for a little over a year now. I used to be very active before this gym/football but since I’ve had it I’ve not really done much exercise. I guess with all my symptoms and medicines I kind of lost hope. I’ve been told yoga will help me both physically and emotionally. I’ve started ashtanga yoga, been to one session although it was very challenging I enjoyed it. However I don’t know if this is the right yoga for me, their are so many different types, I want one that will help me with my colitis and not agitate it. But I am totally lost
    If anyone can help it would be much appreciated πŸ™‚

    Thanks

    Like

    • 8petallotus says:

      Ashtanga is what I am currently working with and absolutely love it! It will be challenging at first but it is a great place to start for someone whom already has a good alethic background.

      When it comes to teaching I have seen a lot of students seemingly struggle at the beginning and within weeks are attempting the more challenging poses in the series. It really all depends on what you think feels right and the instructor that you have in your class. A good/bad instructor can make or break a class and experience.

      Make sure you are listing to your body though, and take it easy if you need to. The only issue I have ever seen with people in yoga is the inability to stop pushing themselves. Find your physical edge in that moment. Particularly with UC you can find your physical state will change day to day and with yoga it is important to listen to those differences and work within them instead of trying to force your body to go further.

      I hope that helps, and fee free to contact me if you have any other questions πŸ™‚

      Like

  15. chintan says:

    Hi. I have Crohn’s Disease since 3 years. I want to start yoga if it can help. Do you know any good center in India who teaches authentic yoga. Thanks you.

    Like

    • 8petallotus says:

      There are a lot of yoga places in India; but I have not been as of yet. I would most recommend any with auvedic aspects. The mixing of diet, emotional well being, and yoga has the greatest results from what I have seen. Further I have noticed more holistic approachs work better too.

      Like

  16. Senthil says:

    I have UC since one year and under meds. Can you give me a link of yours which lists the Yoga poses you have done to cure it? Please email me

    Like

    • 8petallotus says:

      Nothing really cures UC, it is more of a different type of management. I have a sequence that is helpful that is in this category, if you hover on the link to this story it should pop up in a drop down.

      The main things that I found with yoga was the ability to listen to my body and take the cues. If I felt a flare coming on, I knew how to combat it before it became full blow – for me it is always eating lots of bananas. I lot of diet changes in conjunction with the yoga also helped.

      Email me if you want more information, and we can keep chatting about it and see if there is a flow/combination that might help with you πŸ™‚

      Like

  17. c says:

    Hello I just came across this post. I am considering joining a Yoga TTC 200 hours course in India. I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis last year and am currently in remission with the help of the Ayurvedic medicines.Could you possibly let me know if it is a good idea to join a TTC course at this point given that they have shatkarmas and kriyas and if these could put me in a flare?

    Like

    • 8petallotus says:

      Well I was fine in my TT and had no issues, became healither in fact. However I always ask any TT this, do you actually want to teach yoga or just expand your knowledge? There are many ways to learn the depth and wonders of yoga without a TT. Besides there is so much to learn one TT will not even scrach the surface, however if you know what you want to study, and do not want to teach, there are other ways of learning. If you do want to teach, go for it; but be understanding of the diet. If anything might mess you up it would be that. Number one rule of yoga is always if it hurts don’t do it. Yoga is about a gradual opening of the body, mind, and spirit based on what you are ready for. If ANYTHING causes you issues, or might; then do not do it. Your teacher should be respectful of that too, so you should not have an issue.

      Like

  18. Sarah says:

    May you always be blessed that is a beautiful story .

    Like

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