Confessions of a Backslid Yogi

health and wellness

Wow!  After being in the health and wellness industry for so many years, and completing so many Beachbody fitness programs even while dealing with setbacks due to 7 different joint surgeries, you'd think that I would be the queen of acceptance and embodiment of the perennial words of wisdom...

"Start where you are"

"No criticism or comparison"

"Have gratitude for your body just the way it is"

Well... I'm starting my latest fitness "comeback" (and my first ever blog post) with a little confession.....I just endured the most grueling 90 minute yoga practice of self-acceptance that I can ever remember! Yikes! 

I realize that I'm jumping into this new blog smack in the middle of my wellness journey story, so I’ll give a brief history of what has been going on the past few years.  After a few decades of trying to get to the bottom of my chronic migraines, chronic fatigue, joint pain, rapid weight gain and insomnia, I discovered that I had a multitude of autoimmune disorders that were hiding in the background, unrecognized by many doctors because I had become an expert at hiding the symptoms from others while being a work-aholic as an Aerospace engineer and Program Manager. I found many ways to compensate and cover up my symptoms with a smile and hard work. I even got good at sneaking over to the company’s on-site medical building to spend 30 minutes of my lunch break lying in a dark room with an ice-pack under my neck.  

Being the rocket scientist that I was, I started doing massive research on how to heal myself holistically. In the process I even went to school and became a Certified Holistic Health Coach, an online fitness coach, and integrative nutritionist.  After removing many of the migraine triggers, getting back to 5 to 6 days of exercise per week, and losing nearly 40 pounds, I was still plagued by almost daily 4 AM migraines and morning fatigue.  More research and testing revealed that one of my autoimmune disorders (Psoriatic Arthritis) could contribute to sleep apnea!  In July of 2011, a formal medical sleep test confirmed the sleep apnea.  I was actually rather excited to move forward with the treatment, in spite of the CPAP machine.  I thought "FINALLY!  I'm going to feel rested and rejuvenated!  Ready to attack the day and my workouts with even more enthusiasm!”  Ha!  Those of you in my inner circle know that I spent over 6 months struggling with that dreaded CPAP machine.  My claustrophobia led to panic every time I put the mask on, so I existed on 1 to 3 hours of sleep per night for those 6 months of adjusting.  I was too exhausted for my morning yoga routine, and I quickly got out of the habit. Even after I got back to regular exercise and health eating over the next 4 years, I never did get back to my regular morning yoga practice. 

In 2015, I took a promotion in my Aerospace career, and had to move my office to a factory building that was filled with chemicals, molds, and other invisible toxins that threw me into the worst relapse of my autoimmune disorders that I had experienced since the 1990’s.  The daily migraines were back, unexplained rapid weight gain, and my joints became so swollen and crippled in just a few months that I could no longer type, close my hands, or wear regular shoes.  I was relegated to using Dragon dictation software on all of my computers, and wearing Velcro strapped sandals on my swollen feet. The final straw after 4 months in that toxic building is that I nearly passed out at work and the site doctor sent me to the ER where I was put on an IV and scanned for over 12 hours.  I knew things had gotten really bad when I found myself enjoying the rest in the ER among policemen and bloody criminals in handcuffs more than my own working conditions. That's when I made the tough decision to leave that job so that I could work from home, get myself back into remission, and pursue working as a Health Coach and Certified High Performance Coach full time.  I’ve LOVED working from home, being near my own kitchen, and playing with my puppies every day.  I’m thrilled that I stopped the madness before I gained all 40 pounds back that I lost before that relapse (I’ve kept off 25!)  Which brings me to why I was moved to write this blog post.

I woke up this morning ready to get back to my old daily workouts and gluten-free lifestyle that served me so well for so many years. I had been easing into it with long daily walks for the past few weeks, and felt ready to handle a longer workout.  I THOUGHT that a group yoga class would be a great way to ease into my old routine, with the group  and live instructor there  to keep me accountable and WANTING to complete the 90 minute class.  Boy was I ever humbled!  When I first started doing yoga in 1991, my classmates referred to me as the reincarnation of Yogananda Paramahansa, because I had a naturally limber body and was able to jump right into 90 minute advanced classes the very first week I started (it didn't help that I also look a bit like him!)  Well....27 years, several surgeries, and a few autoimmune relapses later, I was slapped silly into reality this morning.  Within 10 minutes I was strategizing how I could roll up my mat and stealthily slither out of the room.  I was near tears when I couldn't cross my elbows in front of my chest to clasp my hands in that contorted twisted praying hands pose that looks like you have two intertwined cobras in front of you.  How was that possible?  How did my body change so much in just a few short months? it's been more like a few YEARS since I did a regular yoga practice, but STILL!   I was feeling healthy and fit, albeit tired.  Who replaced my body with that of an arthritic old lady?  “Clearly, this isn't MY body!"

Through patience with myself and hundreds of deep cleansing breaths, I somehow made it through those first 10 minutes, and talked (rather ...chanted...)  myself out of escaping from the class. With the peaceful and gentle guidance of the yoga instructor, I survived the full 90 minute practice and only had to retreat into child's pose twice during a particularly grueling downward facing dog marathon session.  Not too shabby for my first day back. I sit here at my computer sipping a delicious orange, mango, raspberry, blueberry, mandarin orange, and coconut oil greenberry Shakeology, I am now happy that I went to that group class and am feeling suddenly compelled to repeat those old cliches, but this time without wanting to throw my water bottle at the yoga instructor....

"Start where you are"

"No criticism or comparison"

"Have gratitude for your body...just the way it is. "

And finally...and most importantly....

"What happens on your mat … stays on you mat"


Be sure to join my private (free) “Stop Migraines Now" Facebook group where I like to share tips like this that make life a little more enjoyable (and more productive!)  Or you can reach out to me and schedule a 15 minute call to see if you are a good fit to join my case study group on how to make migraines a thing of the past.  Gwyn's Calendar

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