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A review of Yoga for Chronic Illness (online course)

Introduction

Yoga for Chronic Illness is a 6-week online course offered by Kayla Kurin. Kayla was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome when she was 12. On the course’s About page, she talks about her life with CFS and how things changed when she happened upon a yoga DVD when browsing through a bookstore. After incorporating yoga and meditation into her life, Kayla was able to achieve her dreams, including starting two businesses, competing in three triathlons, and traveling the world. Here’s a video of Kayla talking about her journey.

The Course

Screenshot of video
A seated pose with props

There are six main videos and five extra practice videos.

Main Videos

  • Week 1: Welcome and Focus on the Breath
  • Week 2: The Body-Mind Connection
  • Week 3: The Automatic Nervous System
  • Week 4: Drishti (Focus)
  • Week 5: Sleep
  • Week 6: Appreciate Your Body and Have Fun!

Extra videos:

  • Yoga in Bed – 10 minutes
  • Floor sequence – 20 minutes
  • Visualization podcast -35 minutes
  • Restorative sequence for better sleep – 15 minutes
  • Do 3 things like a yogi – ~4 minutes

The Highlights

Week1

Week one is a restorative sequence with props. You’ll spend a lot of time in each posture as Kayla instructs on proper breathing and positioning. She also offers tips on how to handle your thoughts during practice. This one is a gentle introduction.

Week 2

In the first 2 minutes, Kayla talks about the mind-body connection and how we can use it to help heal ourselves. After that, she moves on to a seated meditation and focused breathing. The lesson also includes some gentle stretches for the hips and a basic flow series. Attention to the breath is emphasized throughout the practice.

Week 3

In week three. you can choose to do either the standing or the chair sequence. In the beginning, Kayla talks about the automatic nervous system and the body’s fight or flight response to stress. The yoga practice begins with some meditative breathing and then a few of the same postures performed in the previous videos. You’ll get an introduction downward dog, standing forward fold, and mountain pose, and legs up-the-wall pose. This week’s practice is a little more active, but still easy and gentle.

Week 4

This week’s lesson is about Drishti (the yogic gaze) Kayla begins with an exercise to learn about focusing your gaze. The practice has both a standing and a chair option. You’ll learn some new movements, including more active standing postures.

Week 5

Sleep is the focus of this week’s practice. Kayla talks about why people have difficulty getting to and staying asleep. She recommends practicing good sleep hygiene like avoiding caffeine late in the day. She recommends doing this yoga sequence before bed. This one includes some new standing poses and concludes with prop-assisted restorative postures.

Week 6

The final practice in the series brings all of the other lessons together. Kayla asks that you have fun and try poses that you may have avoided in the previous weeks. The sequence is more active and a bit more challenging.

Screenshot of web page
Screenshot of week 6 video

Extra Videos

Yoga in Bed is a quick practice to do if you’re short on energy or motivation. It’s also a nice way to get the kinks out before starting your day. The 20-minute floor sequence is perfect for people who struggle to fit yoga into a busy day. The visualization podcast is a yoga practice that you listen to without performing the movements. The restorative sequence for better sleep is a nice way to destress before bed. Do 3 things like a yogi, helps you to translate your time on the mat to the rest of your life.

My thoughts

I think Yoga for Chronic Illness is ideal for people who suffer from a chronic illness and are new to yoga. Our modern technology-obsessed world has left many of us disconnected from our bodies. I know I sometimes feel betrayed by my body for sticking me with Multiple Sclerosis.

I recommend using Kayla’s course as an opportunity to take time for yourself. Give yourself some love and attention. The sequences are easy to follow, and you are never asked to do movements that are unsafe or too advanced. The chair-based practices are ideal for those who have trouble with mobility or suffer from fatigue.

If you’re an old-hand at yoga, this course may not be the challenge you are looking for. That being said, Kayla imparts information for people with a chronic illness that you may not get from a mainstream yoga instructor.

Another benefit of the course is its accessibility for people who are housebound or don’t have yoga classes in their communities. Also, Kayla is available via email to address your questions and concerns. I suggest you give this course a try!


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