If you suffer from a chronic health problem, whether it is asthma, arthritis, chronic fatigue, depression or MS, you will have learnt to manage the effects that this condition may have upon your life. However, coping with the physical and emotional effects of chronic illness is not easy. Finding activities that promote relaxation and mental well-being is therefore essential. Although exercise may be more difficult with certain health problems, yoga is compatible in many instances, even if certain poses need to be avoided. Besides offering a means for relaxation, yoga may itself benefit a range of medical conditions. What might prove even more beneficial is taking a vacation to practice yoga. A change of scene doesn’t only offer a boost to the way you feel in yourself, but a more favorable climate may even help the management of your health complaint.
Physical benefits of yoga on vacation
If you are planning to practice yoga while on your travels, certain health problems will specifically benefit. For instance, there is good evidence that yoga can help in the management of chronic low back pain, with practicing yoga shown to reduce both pain and disability. Although results have not been quite so promising with regards to arthritis, anyone suffering from osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia may still benefit from yoga as part of their treatment. Looking beyond the positive impact that yoga may have on the joints, this activity can benefit your breathing too. Not only do yogic breathing techniques aid relaxation, but they help to improve lung function among people with asthma and may also be useful in the management of other respiratory conditions such as COPD. It’s not just lung function that may improve, but cardiac function may also be enhanced through yoga. Blood pressure, pulse rate and cholesterol levels have all been shown to be lowered as a result, which will be welcome news for anyone suffering from a heart condition. Fatigue is also commonly experienced by people with a range of long-term conditions, including cancer, MS, chronic infections and mental health problems, and yoga may additionally help to reduce feelings of tiredness. However, despite these many benefits of yoga, it is important that you advise your teacher of your ailments before you begin a session, as they need to be familiar with your health to ensure that you get most out of the classes while preserving your well-being.
You may be aware that your medical condition is affected by the weather, temperature and season. With this knowledge you can choose where and when you travel to a yoga retreat accordingly. For instance, if you suffer from asthma, cold and windy weather, as well as a humid environment can trigger attacks. However, a sudden change in temperature can also bring on an attack, as may pollen and air pollution. That’s a lot of factors to consider, but in this instance, visiting an area with a warmer climate with more settled weather would be a good idea, as would visiting outside of the pollen season and avoiding any built-up areas. Weather is also known to have an impact on the symptoms of rheumatic diseases, with low pressure conditions increasing joint pain among those with osteoarthritis, while a fall in temperature triggers pain in rheumatoid arthritis. If you are unsure which climate would be most favorable for your existing health problems, discuss these with your doctor before booking your vacation.
Preparing to travel
Although those of us without any health issues needn’t do much more than book a yoga retreat, ensure we have the necessary travel documents and pack our yoga kit, when you have a chronic condition, a little more preparation is required. It pays to visit your doctor for a health check before you travel, particularly if you are venturing abroad in pursuit of yoga and your journey involves air travel; indeed, you may need a fitness to fly certificate. Your physician will also be able to provide you with a letter outlining your health problems and the treatments you need for these; not only will this be useful to show your yoga instructor, but is essential in case you fall ill while away. Ensuring you have an adequate supply of medications – and some spare just in case – will reduce the risk of any issues on vacation. However, it is vital to have the necessary travel cover for your health problems just in case the worst should happen and you suffer a relapse when on holiday. Lastly, always wear a medical alert bracelet when away so that you can quickly receive the care that you need in an emergency.
Taking the necessary precautions before you travel will give you the best chance of reaping the benefits that a yoga retreat has to offer. You will then be able to come back feeling refreshed and in a better condition, both physically and emotionally, to cope with the trials of everyday life.