By Cathryn Morgan
Inside the studio the gentle glow from a colorful stained glass window fosters a calm, peaceful atmosphere. My yoga teacher, Maureen Fallis, from Surround Circle Yoga in Ottawa, draws on her experience and expertise to adapt poses and positions to meet my individual needs, utilizing an amazing array of clean bolsters, pillows and blankets in all shapes and sizes. I began taking one-to-one therapeutic yoga sessions six months ago. I felt ready to add something new to my current repertoire of pain management strategies.
Beginning yoga felt like the next step, but it was intimidating since my friends who practice yoga are already fit and flexible. I could not envision a place for me in any of their programs or classes.
My personalized program is designed to develop better balance, stability and flexibility one movement at a time. It effectively helps me create mind-body connections, foster body awareness, breathe deeply to calm my nervous system, and release my muscle tension with fluid, repetitive movement patterns. Working at a gentle, rhythmic pace, yoga practice is teaching me to be patient with myself, to take responsibility for knowing my limits of working with my chronic pain, when to pull back and when to keep going, and how to listen to what my body is telling me.
Consequently I am more confident, and less fearful of new movements creating a cascade of chronic pain sensations. Before beginning yoga I didn’t know how I could possibly survive a 90-minute lesson, now I focus on the present and appreciate each one of the 90 minutes as it unfolds. I am learning firsthand that yoga is not just another exercise routine, but a total mind-body experience.