Last year I was invited to speak about exercise and health with a special Non-profit group, United Ostomy Associations of America’s Mesa AZ Chapter (UOAA). This is a special group for me because my mom now has an ostomy (actually two ostomies) after battling cancer. The option of having an ostomy is what ultimately saved her life. The surgery she underwent for cancer treatment took her lower bowel and her bladder, leaving her with a permanent colostomy and urostomy. During the long and complicated recovery we found this ostomy support group that forever changed our lives. One of the most important things to have while going through any traumatic event is someone who understands you and has been where you are. Hearing survivors at the support group speak and talk about how they have had their ostomies for years was very encouraging to my mom, who was struggling to just get through the first few months. Keep reading for more information on what an ostomy is and how to do gentle chair yoga for any complex medical issue.

If you are new to the word “ostomy” let me take a few sentences to explain what I am referring to. The UOAA says that “an ostomy refers to the surgically created opening in the body for the discharge of body wastes.” There are many reasons this is necessary including colon cancer, intestinal damage, crohn’s and colitis. They go on to explain that “a stoma is the actual end of the ureter or small or large bowel that can be seen protruding through the abdominal wall.”

Chair Yoga for Ostomates- Lecture Notes

Here are my lecture notes from this series. I was able to guide an entire group through the chair yoga flow and answer questions about exercise on the fly. As with any post, please leave me your questions and comments in the comments section below.

Motion is Lotion

Why exercise?

Exercise provides many benefits for health. This series focuses on the idea that “motion is lotion.” Body motion helps lubricate and soften joints to decrease stiffness and restrictions. Motion also decreases arthritis build up. Naturalistic doctors and Primary care doctors alike are now teaching patients about the positive health benefits of exercise. Here are some things exercise can do for you:

  • Decreases the risk of diseases like heart disease, diabetes, obesity and hypertension
  • Decreases weight gain, stress and insomnia
  • Increases energy by using the body’s metabolism more efficiently
  • Improves quality of life by allowing people to continue reaching, bending and lifting without injury

Practical applications for Ostomates

  • Improves digestion and regularity so that there is less bowel inflammation
  • Promotes healthy weight (appliances stay better when you have a flatter tummy and less creasing)
  • Decreased secondary complications and diseases (better immune system)

5-minute Chair Yoga Group Exercise Always Start with Exercise Safety

  • Don’t do this if you have a bulging disc in the neck or any other limiting orthopedic condition,
  • Always check with a doctor before starting an exercise routine
  • Only do exercises that you are comfortable with, discontinue any exercise that causes pain
  • Stretching is for muscle tension release, only go to the point where it is comfortable, never past
  • Each pose begins and ends with a breath: In through your nose, out through your mouth.

Chair Yoga Routine:

Sun Salutation warm up, repeat 4 times

Use these verbal cues while sitting in a stable chair to guide your practice.

  • Start with hands at heart center, sitting tall with your muscles engaged
  • Inhale, sweep your hands up, reaching up toward the sky and slightly back behind your head
  • Exhale, bring your hands to your lap, allow head to hang as you walk your hands down your thighs
  • Inhale, hug the right knee to the chest
  • Exhale, bow your head to your knee, tuck your chin to your chest
  • Inhale, release your knee, sweep your hands up, reach up toward the sky and slightly back behind your head
  • Exhale, allow your head to hang as you walk your hands down your thighs
  • Inhale, hug the left knee to the chest
  • Exhale, bow your head to your knee, tuck your chin to your chest
  • Inhale, release your knee, sweep your hands up, reach up toward the sky and slightly back behind your head
  • Exhale, allow head to hang as you walk your hands down your thighs
  • Inhale, sweep your hands up, reaching up and slightly back
  • Exhale, Return your hands to hearts center
  • Repeat as necessary

If you or someone you know has an ostomy, I encourage you to find a support group and get active in it. If there is not one close to you, start one up. You will be surprised at how many people actually live and thrive with these appliances. Go to the United Ostomy Association Website for more information on support groups near you. Here are some helpful links to more information.

UOAA HERE

UOAA Mesa- EV/AZ chapter HERE