My experience with healing a chronic illness through yoga or “How It All Began”

Rarely do I tell this story, but never so publicly. On the one hand, it can probably motivate someone and give them confidence in a similar situation, but on the other hand, it is not certain that everyone will have exactly the same outcome as I did. So, due to the fact that I wouldn’t want to be responsible for an example that could lead to dire consequences, there will be a classic warning – “do not repeat at home” just in case.

So, the story is about how at the age of 25 I got myself to the chronic disease, six years I was sitting on pills, but then, cardinally changing my lifestyle, miraculously healed.

About ten years ago, at a fairly young age, I discovered that my blood pressure had gone beyond its normal state, being observed throughout the day at an average of 160/100, sometimes reaching a health-critical peak of 200 units. Having undergone all the necessary medical examinations, the exact cause of this problem, unfortunately, could not be established. The doctors’ latest version was “hereditary predisposition”. The situation with my health condition did not improve in any way, and I didn’t want to take any measures for self-improvement, so I was prescribed a preparation that expanded blood vessels (Amlodipine), a standard treatment in similar cases. The action of the drug, as one would expect, “drove” the pressure into a safe zone, and for the next six years I, though on pills, could live my usual way of life with more or less normal well-being.

Everything would probably be fine, but by the time I was thirty, the situation began to change for the worse. Apparently, the existing medication was no longer enough, as my blood pressure began to “wobble” again and my well-being worsened. Again, a number of medical referrals, tests and consultations followed. Finally another drug was prescribed (Nebilet), which in addition to the first (which dilates blood vessels), was also supposed to block the body’s response to the hormone adrenaline (which affects the increase in blood pressure). Thus, at the age of thirty-one I had to take two pills every day in order to have a normal feeling of well-being.

Perhaps this moment can be considered the peak of my disagreement with the situation. It was here that I finally felt that I was at the point of no return. I no longer felt that I was the master of my body. My feelings and emotions arising in my head did not find their usual response in my body, because the action of adrenaline was blocked, and my blood vessels were constantly maintained in a static state (although both of them, in their natural functioning, are directly involved in this process – when we are angry, for example, adrenaline is released, heartbeat and breathing increases, and we feel the reaction of the body to this emotion). I could not believe that at such a young age a young person could have such problems “out of the blue”. Opening a can of pills every day for an alarm clock just to live? How could that be? My analytical mind used to calculate scenarios of further developments. If I am thirty-one now, and I am already on pills, which every five or six years must be somehow supplemented with more and more drugs, then what will happen at least twenty years later, i.e. at fifty? Will that be it? The end? And how would I feel for the last five to ten years before that very finish line? It was a catharsis. I firmly decided that if I didn’t pull myself out of this situation now, no one would do it for me, and all the dark scenarios in my head could really come to fruition.

From that moment on, I directed all my intellectual and physical energies to resolving the situation. First of all, I began to study various scientific materials concerning blood pressure – how this system works, on what factors it depends and what influences it. Since the results of medical examinations showed no abnormalities in the work of internal organs (such as adrenal glands or heart) affecting my blood pressure, I concluded that the problem was most likely related to my lifestyle. Something had to change.

Probably the first thing I changed in my life was to give up alcohol and coffee and considerably limit my consumption of sweets. Alcohol and coffee agitate the nervous system and disperse the emotional background, and sweets and bakery products contribute to high blood sugar and cholesterol, which negatively affects the condition of blood vessels. In the next step, I fundamentally reconsidered my entire diet. The matter is that during last ten years I put on extra 20 kilos and I already felt some weight in my body (it was not that I became fat, but from my usual 68-70 I weighed 88). I was sure that the extra weight was also negatively affecting my blood pressure. The most interesting form of diet at that time seemed to me a movement in the direction of vegetable food, that is, vegetarianism, where the presence in the diet of fatty foods of animal origin was reduced to a minimum. The benefits of such a diet are also supported by some modern heart surgeons (e.g. Dr. Elsworth Wareham) confirming that the blood vessels of vegetarians and vegans are in good condition. So I gave up red meat first, then poultry, then fish and then seafood, smoothly and without unnecessary violence to myself. Of animal products, I gave up only dairy products and eggs. At the same time as correcting the diet I also practiced different methods of detoxification – starting with classical sauna, continuing with health fasts and finishing with yogic detoxification techniques (shatkarmas). All of this, after careful study, I tried it out on myself, parsed the results and drew conclusions.

In addition to dieting and cleansing, I also plugged in physical exercise to make my body healthier. I started running in the evenings, swimming in the mornings, going to the gym after work and walking all day on the weekends. My goal, which was not competition results or beautiful abs, but the ability to live without pills, feeling good, gave me strength and motivation. I recorded all my actions and their reflection on my blood pressure clearly. For this I had a cordless blood pressure monitor, which I used five times a day – waking up and going to sleep, at work and at home, before and after training. My goal was to track the correlation of my actions to changes in my blood pressure readings. It was important to understand what in my behavior and how it affects my blood pressure, as well as what actions to improve my well-being are most effective.

So, going through various tools, recording the results and drawing conclusions, I came to the understanding that it is not enough to work on the physical body, but it is also important to get my head in order. For the past ten years I had had too intense a pace of life – work, studies, entrepreneurial activities, several changes of residence (cities and countries) – all of which led to energy depletion, emotional instability and lingering stress. I realized that my restless mind was making a mess of my entire body – my nervous system was under stress, which thwarted the endocrine system, which produced stress hormones on and off, causing vasoconstriction, increased heartbeat and, as a result, higher blood pressure as well. In order to put my head in its place, I turned to yoga techniques. I started with classical asana complexes of Hatha yoga, then connected breathing techniques, and later meditations. Studying and practicing yoga, I realized that, in fact, it includes all the tools necessary for a healthy and happy life – it trains and liberates the body, purifies the body, prescribes a diet, morals and calms the mind. So all other wellness activities (gym, swimming pool, running, etc.) I gradually let go, concentrating solely on yoga in its various manifestations.

The work I had done was not in vain – gradually I was getting better in one way or another: the body was cleansing and strengthening, the fat mass was melting, the mind was calming down, and the emotions were subsiding. Within a year I had shed those extra twenty kilos, and my sugar and cholesterol had dropped from the borderline zone to normal levels. All this had a combined effect on my tonometer readings. The numbers began to be more adequate, even though I was still on medication. The next point in my crazy plan was to phase them out. For those who have never experienced similar problems, let me explain that the interruption of such drugs is strictly forbidden and this prohibition is scientifically valid. The fact is that over the years of using these pills, first, the blood vessels become completely inelastic and even brittle, and second, the body completely loses the skill and ability to regulate their level of contraction and expansion on its own. If you stop taking the prescribed medication regularly, there is a high probability that at some point the blood vessels may sharply contract or burst, which will inevitably provoke a heart attack or hemorrhage.

So I acted very cautiously. As my well-being improved, I very slowly reduced the dosage of the drugs, each time giving the body a few months to adapt to the new conditions, continuing to practice yoga and watching my diet (here it is worth noting that it was extremely important to take the necessary time to understand the true reaction of the body to reducing the dosage, since the active substances do not disappear from the body immediately after the end of the pills, but remain for some time in the blood, continuing to have their effect). This process was very difficult, manifesting itself as sudden pressure spikes to critical levels, arrhythmia, panic attacks and sometimes I had to roll back, returning to the previous level of medication use. From the outside, this experiment was perhaps reminiscent of an addict’s recovery from drug addiction.

After a year I still managed to reduce my use of drugs to zero, but to say that my blood pressure was then in a stable state was impossible. It took me another year to put the work of my body and mind on the rails of stable functioning, but without medication intervention. And only in the third year did I understand that my initial goals had been achieved – I felt good and confident enough, and for this I did not need to take anything inside. However, looking back, I realize that in order to achieve these goals I needed to turn my lifestyle around 180 degrees. So it’s not like when a person has a problem like that, you have to fast a little bit, cleanse yourself, take a class at the gym and that’s it, you’re cured. That’s not how it works. A healthy lifestyle (including diet, sobriety, exercise, rest), a calm mind and morals are my formula for an effective and healthy life. And these “pills” must be taken from a young age until the very end.

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