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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Klemmetson

5 Benefits of Yoga for Chronic Illness

Yoga is a great way to exercise, destress and manage a variety of physical and mental health conditions. When you have a chronic illness, you probably are used to hearing a lot of advice about how to make yourself better or get a miraculous cure. However, it just doesn't work that way. But for me, like a lot of people with chronic illnesses and autoimmune disorders, yoga has been a great way to regularly move, stretch, breath and manage my stress levels. Here are 5 science backed benefits of yoga for chronic illness.

  1. Lowers pain levels: Yoga can help alleviate chronic pain. Research shows that practicing yoga regularly can counteract the way chronic pain affects in your brain. Chronic pain weakens your brain structure by decreasing the amount of grey matter you have and breaking down the integrity of white matter. Yoga can prevent and even reverse this because it strengthens both grey and white matter. Source: Psychology Today

  2. Improves immune resilience: Many people with chronic illnesses are susceptible to all the other germs out there and pick up every cold or flu. Yoga can strengthen your immune system by helping your body recover and rest and have a stronger immune response. Source: Walsh Medical

  3. Better cardio health: Yoga can help decrease blood pressure and heart disease by promoting cardiac health, blood flow and respiration. This has long term benefits but also boosts energy and vitality right now. Source: International Journal of Yoga

  4. Benefits mental health: Your brain needs to relax, and yoga can help by increasing GABA. Yoga can also help you manage your stress response, so that you aren't as impacted by chronic stress. Chronic stress, which is common for those with chronic illnesses, can lead to anxiety, depression, fatigue and insomnia. Yoga helps to alleviate the impact of an overactive stress responses. Source: Harvard Health

  5. Clears brain fog: If you're affected by long Covid or another condition that leads to brain fog, you know how challenging it can be. Yoga, while not eliminating brain fog, can help minimize the symptoms. Even just four sessions of mindfulness/meditation can improve attention span and bring mental clarity. Source: Science Direct

When you have a chronic illness, you lose a sense of control over your life. You don't know when you may get ill again, even if you do everything in your power to manage your symptoms. But with yoga, you can develop a physical and mental routine to help your body and your mind deal with your chronic illness.

Would you like to schedule a private yoga session for chronic illness? Send me a message and we can chat about how yoga might be able to help!

Me in the hospital, shortly before or after being diagnosed with IBD at 15. The next year, I started regularly practicing yoga and found reducing stress helped manage flare ups.

Note: If you have recently had surgery or a medical procedure, are in an active flare up of your chronic illness or have specific concerns (ongoing injury or pain), please talk to your doctor before starting any exercise program or taking a yoga class.

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