When I first got diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension, I was physically unable to do anything. Showering was a chore. I could hardly walk from my bedroom to the kitchen. I stopped leaving the house. But eventually, with the help of my medications, I began to do more and more. I finally talked to my doctor about what sort of exercises I could start doing, and how to live a healthier life. We talked a lot about different options, and we finally agreed on yoga.
Here’s how I got started on my journey with yoga:
• I created a yoga room. My husband Matt and I had an extra room in our house. It basically became a catch-all for our junk, clothes and holiday decorations. After being fed up with it all, I cleared it out. I actually put our laundry away, stored our decorations in a spot that made sense, and cleaned it up. Then I picked a soothing color, and bribed Matt with all the baked goods he could handle to paint it. I created a space where I just could be with the yoga.
• I found the right person to teach me. I looked into books, and YouTube starts, and decided on Yoga With Adriene. She’s on YouTube, and she has hundreds of videos, ranging from easy to difficult. She has videos for everything you can think of! Toning, digestion, hangovers, aching backs, headaches, bad moods. You name it, she’s got it. She can teach you how to do a proper downward dog, and forward fold. She has a positive attitude, and can either energize you in the morning, or help you unwind in the evening.
• Be dedicated. At first, I was averaging about four or five minutes at a time. I would do one downward dog, and immediately start gasping. My muscles had atrophied, and my lungs refused to cooperate. I wanted to quit. I wanted to throw my yoga mat in the garbage can, frustrated that my body wouldn’t do what I wanted. But I persevered. Every day I pushed myself a little bit more. My doctor saw the results before I did, and urged me to keep going. So, I did.
• Be proud of yourself. I can now do 45 minutes to an hour of yoga at a time. I’m stronger, healthier, happier. I look forward to yoga every day. My doctor is proud, and the time I’ve put into this journey obviously has paid off. My six-minute walk tests have improved by more than 150 meters, and I’m not as winded. Be proud of the results you see, no matter how small they may be. Can you do five extra minutes? Are you feeling less anxiety? Do you have tiny baby muscles poking through? Hooray!
Of course, be sure to check with your doctor to see if yoga is the right choice for you. It’s not for everyone, and it won’t work for everyone with pulmonary hypertension. Sometimes I can feel a little bit dizzy if I push myself too far. You just have to find the right moves and trainer for you.
Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.