Army Veteran Woodi dealt with pain by taking medication for years until she found an alternative: regular yoga at the Salt Lake City VA.
The program is only one of many alternative therapies designed to help Veterans improve their quality of life. Woodi and her yoga instructor, Yael, sat down with us to talk about their experiences.
Woodi, how did VA help care for your health?
I was diagnosed with stenosis of the back about six, seven years ago. So I have been through a lot of different therapies for my back. And the best thing that I found last year was the yoga class.
How did you first learn about yoga?
I was referred to yoga by my physical therapist. But the one who convinced me to go to the yoga class and take the yoga class was the actual instructor, Yael. And I really thought she was crazy. I thought, how can you ask someone with a bad back to do yoga? I had no idea that yoga is done in so many different ways and for people of all ages and all abilities.
Yael, tell us about your yoga program.
I teach trauma-sensitive yoga at the Salt Lake City VA. Trauma-sensitive yoga is designed specifically to meet the needs of all physical abilities and all emotional conditions. And it’s a great way to deal with lower back pain.
A lot of people – not just Veterans, but a lot of people – have back issues. And so these simple yoga stretches can be wonderful for helping to release some of the lower back pain and to make your body healthier.
How do you start?
Take a deep breath. Now put your hands up, and then you release.
Woodi, how does your back feel when you’re doing that?
The feeling I get for myself in my back is, it kind of does a tension, and then it releases the back. And then you have all the tension go away. And then you feel more comfortable.
VA has made a huge difference in my life. I’ve tried everything VA offered. The yoga class has just loosened my back up, taken away a lot of my pain, just helped me to be able to move better, to have a better quality of life, to take less medication.
Before you found yoga, what kind of medication were you taking?
Before I started yoga, I was taking about four Lortab a day. Sometimes I would take acetaminophen in between that because I just had so much pain in my back.
But through having the yoga classes and staying with the yoga classes, I have actually decreased my pain medications down to one Lortab a day, which my doctors are very happy about. That has made a life change. I can’t even put a value on it because it is that important to me.
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