Using Yoga to Relieve Pain and Illness: Q&A with Erin Bidlake
Please share what you do: I use yoga to help people work with chronic pain, chronic fatigue, anxiety, and depression.
Why do you do what you do? I do this work because I have personally experienced relief from my illness using yoga, and I’ve seen the difference it can make for others in pain.
What are you currently fascinated by in your work? I am fascinated by the breath and the spaces between breaths. Yoga asana (postures) is not accessible to all of my students, but the breath is a tool that everyone can access, every moment of every day.
How did you come to your path? Any aha moments or key teachers? I first came to this practice when I was 20 years old and experiencing constant, debilitating back pain. I had dropped out of school and was back home, living with my parents. A family friend suggested I try yoga, so I took a class, and then another, and another, and another. I have never experienced any big, life-changing moments on my mat; rather, my path has been one of incremental gains and losses. I am forever grateful to all of my teachers, but especially to Pema Chödrön, who has taught me about groundlessness and overcoming fear.
What book(s) are you currently reading? There is always a Pema Chödrön book beside my bed. I’m currently reading her excellent book How to Meditate.
Erin Bidlake is a certified yoga teacher registered with Yoga Alliance at the 200- and 500-hour levels. She spent years living with chronic pain and fatigue as a result of late-stage chronic Lyme disease and her teaching is grounded in her journey, coupled with the science of yoga and the human body. As a yoga teacher, Erin believes she can only teach what she knows and is passionate about sharing this knowledge with anyone on the yogic path, but she especially finds herself drawn to (and perhaps most useful to) those living with pain — whether physical, emotional, or spiritual.
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