Managing Pain: Opioids and Yoga

Guest blog by Yoga in ME student, Lauren B Cape

Opioid addiction has been in the forefront for several years. Although opioids can be very helpful for those suffering, they can also trigger a larger problem. As someone who suffers chronic pain from scoliosis, which has led to bulging discs, I have been offered the opportunity to dance with opioids. I chose to pass. Not because of the stigma they carry, because I tend to go hard or go home.

I first discovered yoga while I was fighting as an amateur Muay Thai boxer in the New England area. Many of us practiced hot yoga in Cambridge to stay flexible, strong, and maintain a lean body mass. However, seven years of rigorous training started to take a toll on my body, especially my back. I started to experience shooting pains during training as well as getting out of bed. I knew something was wrong. I formed a relationship with an Orthopedic Surgeon who named a myriad of medications I could take to manage my pain. It was then I asked for alternative solutions. His answer, “your exercise should only consist of swimming, walking or yoga.” Coming from an extremely active background as well as being a certified personal trainer, I was crushed. I didn’t even walk to warm up for weight lifting anymore, I jogged. Swimming was financially unattainable and at the time, so was yoga.

I was very close to giving in to the prescription route. I told my husband daily that I was just going to try them and see what happens. He was not on board. It wasn’t until I moved to Eliot, Maine 3 years later that I discovered Yoga in ME. They were offering a 6 week beginner series for a great price. It was time. I am a full time bartender and doing my job efficiently was becoming nearly impossible. I was in love from the first class.

Not only has yoga dramatically improved my level of pain, I am able to carve out time during the week for just me. I have felt better than I have in 6 years. Although I cannot attend as regularly as I’d like to due to my work schedule, it never fails to disappoint when my body knows it’s been too long since I practiced. The benefits are all encompassing and it’s a great community. I am now able to check in with my doctor every 6 months with only positives to report. For me, opioids could not be the answer. I am so glad yoga is. Namaste!

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New Class at Yoga in ME: Yoga And Recovery. Mondays from 4-5pm

Beginning Monday, April 2nd a new offering has been added to the schedule. Yoga and Recovery is an hour-long practice aimed to develop calm, peace and awareness of our ability to reclaim the lives we want to inhabit.

Patanjali defines yoga as effort toward the cessation of thought. These efforts can include:  poses (asana), breath (pranayama) and meditation (dhyana). Practicing a yogic life style, we learn to quiet the mind. This can happen regardless of chaos around us as we seek union with the essence of our true being.

The healing process of recovery also aims to still the chatter of the mind. We aim to recover from any negative patterned conditioning that has developed over the course of living our lives.

Yoga and Recovery is an hour-long yoga practice that begins with short meditation or breath work and simple intention setting focused on the positive qualities we wish to foster in our lives. We then move mindfully with breath through a series of asana poses, ending with an ample shavasana rest.

The practice is designed to activate the parasympathetic system offering the body a chance to recuperate and heal.

This class is offered Free or By Donation.

Mondays from 4 – 5pm.

Recovery and the Yamas and Niyamas

From time to time we will be posting the monthly essays written by the students in our 200 Hour Teacher Training Program. This is one student’s essay from Month Four of this 8 month program.


Growing up in an alcoholic/dysfunctional home is a gift that lasts a lifetime. A child in this type of home is always on full alert. For me life was like playing a series of games: charades, hide and seek, risk and monopoly all played with changing rules greed, cheating and lying. Children who grow up in these homes experience PTSD. One expert describes the symptoms as worse than others because the “enemy” is someone you love and have to live with and rely for nurturing and development. I swore I would not be like my parents and have spent over a decade in therapy and 12 step programs. Yoga has helped tremendously to connect the dots of my recovery and solidify the need to observe the yamas and niyamas in order to heal.

Growing up with all the opposite of the yamas caused me to develop character defenses. I was taught to lie to cover up for what was going on in the house, stolen items were constantly being brought in from job sites, and getting ahead of others regardless of their feelings was our way of life. We were a team, we had a code, we had each other’s backs. We learned to stuff our feelings down and we usually did with food while Dad drank, and we walked on eggshells and hoped it was not an angry and violent night. It has taken many years to relearn and begin to heal the wounds from childhood.

I began observing the yamas and niyamas without knowing. I sought self-help through books and workshops, studied the Bible and loved to exercise and burn off my pent up emotions. When I began yoga, I felt like I came home. What I did not realize is that I did, I came home to a divine presence inside myself. My recent practice and study has helped me understand that my internal desires have always been to live the yamas. In working to rid myself of the character defects I developed I have been working toward a nonviolent, truthful and compassionate life. Understanding them on a new level gives me more peace with my decision. I still struggle with my past and find pain in watching my family continue these traits but I am learning to just breath and get back on the mat.

 

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