Anyone who has ever walked into a new yoga studio knows that nervous feeling of not knowing what to expect: where the props are, where to put your mat, which direction to face. We look to the regulars who already have their space all set up, as they talk to their friends or meditate. The yoga teacher is there to show you around, answer questions, and get you set up for class.
For someone with a chronic illness, going to a new yoga studio can be terrifying and overwhelming. Your body has very specific needs, and you may not know what poses help or hurt. Class times are hard to attend due to fluctuating symptoms. Mobility can be minimal. Maybe like me, you only leave the house rarely. Medical equipment could be attached to your body, or used for movement.
None of that means you cannot have a healthy, routine yoga practice. The benefits of yoga are vast, and can turn a terrible day into something wonderful. Whatever "limitations" you may have are an opportunity to find modifications of poses and new ways to explore yoga. Yoga is not a competition. There is no judgement or failure. It's all just practice. So give it a try. But first, here are my tips you should know before trying a class:
Tips for Spoonies: How to Start a Yoga Practice:
-You can begin your own personal practice, at your own pace. Take the anxiousness about trying something new and ease it with the knowledge this is all on your terms.
-Yoga is whatever we want it to be, whatever we put into it.
-Yoga does not have to be a long, vigorous class or an intimidating handstand seen via social media.
-Start out small.
-Take rest breaks, even if you are in the middle of class and everyone else is standing.
-You know your body best. Rest is also very important in yoga, we practice it at the end of every class. Don't feel embarrassed about feeling differently than the person next to you. Yoga does not judge or compare. It's a purely individual practice.
-Drink extra water to flush toxins after class. Lots of yoga poses detoxify the body, muscles, connective tissues and more.
-Observe what helps and hurts your body so you can modify your poses in practice. If you feel a sharp, shooting pain during a pose that instinctively tells you to stop, then stop. There is a big difference between causing further injury than just feeling uncomfortable, needing to take a few breaths and reevaluate.
-Talk to any future teacher about you, your body, and your needs. Most yoga teachers at studios are trained for 200 hours. I only had 10 hours on anatomy during my training. Fortunately I have studied it for years after. When I was a beginner teacher, I was very uncomfortable giving advice or modifications for people with injuries and illnesses. You may really have to simplify your symptoms when meeting a new teacher, and make sure they are understanding you.
-There are teachers with 500 hour trainings, specialty certifications, and yoga therapists that could be a better fit for you. Do a little background search on the teacher and studio.
-Regardless of training, all yoga teachers want to connect with their students so be open minded on building an ongoing relationship with them. The teacher could really get to know your needs.
-Yoga is not treatment, a doctor, a cure all or a band aid.
-It's always more fun to do yoga with friends.
-Keep a yoga journal on how you felt before and after class, what the class was like, what worked for you. Before you know it, you have plenty to work with going forward in your practice.
-I prefer to practice a gentle, restorative class and sometimes add strengthening poses in. I've lost a lot of tone due to atrophy and I want to work on getting it back.
-If attending a studio, look for: gentle, restorative, yin, and beginner. Those are fairly passive classes that most can attend.
-If you cannot attend yoga classes outside the house, there are many options for yoga online. I am starting to teach classes online for the chronically ill, and I know Lyme Yoga Warrior will grow this year. There are many teachers on YouTube (again do background research that it's right for you).
-If you don't want to move at all, join a local meditation group, or listen to meditation podcasts at home.
Genevieve Goetz is the "Lyme Yoga Warrior." You can follow her story on her blog.
She has a free full beginners yoga class available on her website. How cool is that?
You can find her on:
"The soul is here for its own joy." - Rumi
I'm going out on a limb and declare Twitter as my favorite social media platform. It's not as interactive as Instagram and it's not where all the cool kids hang out like Snapchat, but I love it. Maybe it's my short attention span or love for quick, creative quips, but Twitter is the winner in my book.
Since I started a Body Mind Lyme Twitter account I've enjoyed the interaction with other Lyme patients so much that I decided to put together a list of some great accounts to follow.
This is just a start and there are many more. If you don't see your handle here, make sure you add it in a comment at the end of the post.
(Discliamer: If you wish to be removed or feel I misrepresented your feed, please email me at kerry@bodymindlyme. com and I will fix it).
40+ Lyme Twitter Accounts You Should Be Following:
1. April Moor @HappyHealinVegan - If you need a daily dose of positivity, this is the place to go.
2. ArtistLike @Artistlike - This blogger posts the most up to date research on Lyme disease and entertains with his own commentary.
3. Body Mind Lyme @KerryJHeckman - Of course I have to put my own on the list. I try to keep my account upbeat and fun. I retweet lot of other Lyme patients and my articles/blog posts. I occasionally tweet my thoughts and snippets about pop culture-y stuff. Full disclosure: From time to time I tweet about the amazing musical Hamilton and to Lin-Manuel Miranda, hoping to get a retweet.
4. Lori Dennis @LymeMadness - Author of the upcoming book Lyme Madness. Tweets things you need to know about the controversy behind chronic Lyme disease.
5. Hope Heal Cook @hopehealcook - You will be motivated to cook by the beautiful food creations that pop up in Kat’s Twitter feed. Also, she shares inspirational thoughts mixed in with compassion for illness.
6. Lady of Lyme @LadyofLyme - Christina, the lady behind the popular blog Lady of Lyme, shares her personal thoughts and experiences in addition to Lyme information. You will enjoy her genuine voice.
7. Kami Lingren @livinggraceblog - Kami has a lovely blog and a positive presence. Follow her for advice and 'how tos' on how to follow a healing diet.
8. Lyme Bloggers @LymeBloggers - This feed consists of links to all the new posts from hundreds of Lyme bloggers.
9. melissa cox @mellypeacox - Melissa originated the #lymedontkillmyvibe hashtag. Funny tweets about the Lyme life.
10. amybscher @amybscher - Author of How to Heal Yourself When No One Else Can, posts positive messages and engages with her readers.
11. Kate Scott @Lymeology - Kate, the editor behind the contributor website Lymeology, tweets the latest articles and interesting news from the world of Lyme.
12. Laura Notorangelo @LauraNotor - Laura, the blogger behind The Antidote posts about living with and healing from Lyme. You will love her blog.
13. Aly @wanderandrenew - Inspirational tweets about Lyme treatment, travel, and life. Aly’s personality shines through.
Others to Check Out: Victoria Faling @lemonsnlyme, Genevieve Goetz @lymeyogawarrior, Hope @FaithHope2Love, Crista Icore @MorningTempest, Marlena Lewis @marlendalewis11, TerryMay_ColorMeLyme @ColorMeLyme_net, Jenny Rush @Lymethriving, shaggycreations @shaggycreations, David Skidmore @Lymeloonies, A Twist of Lyme @TwistofLymeBook, Hope @FaithHope2Love
14. Elena Delle Donne @De11eDonne - The Lyme survivor and star WNBA player of the Chicago Sky, tweets about basketball, developmental disability awareness, and the custom tables she makes. You won’t see a lot about Lyme in her feed, but you will see evidence of a full, happy life lived in spite of Lyme.
15. Crystal Hefner @crystalhefner - You may recognize her by her last name, but she has made a name for herself as a Lyme and Implant Illness activist. She most posts inspirational quotes and pretty photos.
16. Ally Hilfiger @AllyHilfiger 1 - recent author of the book, Bite Me: How Lyme Disease Stole My Childhood, Made Me Crazy, and Almost Killed Me, tweets about Lyme, her book, and inspiration.
17. Dana Parish @danaparish - Dana Parish describes herself as a "fierce advocate" and that is what you will find on her twitter feed. Lots of stuff about Lyme and she interacts regularly with other Lyme patients.
18. YOLANDA @YolandaHFoster - Yolanda mostly tweets about her model children and enviable beach vacations; however, she is a passionate Lyme advocate and interacts with others from the Lyme community.
Others to Check Out: Bella Hadid @bellahadid, Avril Lavigne @AvrilLavigne, Rob Thomas @ThisIsRobThomas
Doctors and Health Professionals
19. Lissa Rankin, MD @lissarankin - Author of the excellent book Mind Over Medicine. You can expect information, positivity, and inspiration from her Twitter feed.
20. Mackay Rippey @LymeNinjaRadio - Mackay is an acupuncturist and host of the Lyme Ninja Radio podcast. If you don’t listen to the podcast, I highly recommend you subscribe to it. Follow on Twitter for links to current and past episodes.
Others to Check Out: DrFrid @ElenaFridMD, Bill Rawls, MD @RawlsMD Dr. Richie Shoemaker @SurvivingMold
21. Global Lyme Alliance @LymeAlliance - Keep up with the good works of the Global Lyme Alliance. The organization is committed to education and research. Posts include excellent articles and all the latest Lyme news.
22. Lyme Disease Challenge @LymeChallenge - If you have Lyme you most likely know about the Lyme Disease Challenge, one of our biggest and best awareness campaigns. While the focus is in May, they tweet year round.
23. Lymedisease.org @Lymenews - The well-known advocacy networks tweets important articles and about the My Lyme Data project.
24. MA Lyme Coalition @LymeCoalition - a politically focused organization from Massachusetts, currently focused on getting a Lyme bill passed in their state, which would mandate that insurance cover Lyme treatment. Other states should take notice.
25. The Mighty @TheMightySite - Many of you probably know The Mighty, the site publishes stories and articles written by people with disabilities, illness, and mental illness. Follow the feed for well-written, heartfelt articles.
26. NatCapLyme @NatCapLyme - Based on the East Coast, The National Capital Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Association posts updates about Lyme legislation and promotes awareness.
27. Project Lyme @ProjectLyme - non-profit bringing awareness to Lyme and other tick borne diseases. Both fun and informative posts.
Others to Check Out: ILIADS Lyme Disease @ilads_lyme, In Our Shoes Project @InOurShoesProj, LYMELILLI.ORG @LymeLili, World Lyme Day @WorldLymeDay
Patients and Advocates
28. Madeleine Boyson @MadArtBoyson - Inspirational retweets and humorous tweets about a day in the life of a Lyme patient.
29. Coelleen Burns @coelleen - Coeleen is an animal lover and posts lots of good animal pictures.
30. Holly Coleman @hcoleman196 - Holly is an avid retweeter of all things Lyme. Follow her and she will keep you updated on what’s happening in the Lyme community.
31. Holly Lyme @Holly_Lyme - This Lyme warrior and advocate tweets and retweets lots of Lyme facts and articles.
32. LymeMemo by Dani @LymeMemo - Tweets all the way from Munich, Germany. Tweet about the reality of Lyme with a dose of positivity.
33. Michele Goldman @michgold_ - Michele frequently tweets, short, funny commentaries on life. It’s one of those accounts where you feel like you know the person.
34. Elise Graham @elisegraham - Smart, fun-loving tweets from this Lyme advocate.
35. Lauren Lovejoy @LymeWarriorLL - Lauren is a warrior and expert marketer. She is spreading the word about Lyme, raising money for a cure, and helping others raise money for treatment.
36. Lyme Slayer @Lyme_Slayer - Retweets good varied articles about Lyme from many sources.
37. Aviva Peltin @avivapeltin - this young Lyme patient posts fun tweets and has her own YouTube channel, where she talks about Lyme, her vegan lifestyle, and entertainment.
38. readbetweenthelyme @readbetwnthelyme - one of the most prolific retweeters of all things Lyme. You will love her as a follower, because she will retweet your stuff.
39. Sara fights Lyme @SaraFightsLyme - a young Lyme fighter tweets about her Lyme disease journey. Good commentary about what it is like to have Lyme.
40. The Mixed Exchange @yourlyminess - Tweets and retweets about the Lyme experience and other health-related things.
Others to Check Out: BellaWithLyme @BellaWithLyme, Daily Lyme @DailyLyme, Hannah @HealingHannah, lymewareness @bekindforlyme, Nancy Shea @Nan_Shea, scoobydoo @ayneKcM, Snow White @reptile_gurl
It would be great to have a great big Lyme community on Twitter. Please comment below with your Twitter handle below or a Twitter handle you recommend, so we can connect.
"A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men." - Roald Dahl
I'm Kerry and I was diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease in 2016. This is a positive space for those of us coping with Lyme disease and other invisible illnesses.