Episode 27: Chronic Illness and Yoga: What it's like when our bodies don't work the way we want w/ Brittany Zeer

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It’s one thing to develop a well-oiled routine and have the discipline to follow through but what happens if our bodies aren’t cooperating the way we want them to?  It’s excruciating to get through a trip to the grocery store let alone make it to a yoga class where you have to bend yourself in all sorts of shapes.  Each day is a toss-up – maybe you’ll be pain free, maybe you’ll be bed ridden…..or maybe you’ll think it’s a pain free day and then bam! just when you’re about to make it to an important appointment the pain hits and everything’s a write off.  It’s frustrating – how do you plan your day? How do you maintain a yoga practice?  How do you keep up a social life??  This is what life is like for somebody who has a chronic illness.  In this episode, Brittany Zeer is back on the show and we discuss chronic illnesses.  An accident three years ago left her with chronic migraines and now pain management is on her daily agenda.  She sheds light on what it’s like to live with a chronic illness, how loved ones can support, pain management tips and how to continue a yoga practice despite the obstacles. 

If you have a chronic illness listen in because you’re not alone!  If you don’t have a chronic illness, listen in anyway because it’s a chance to flex that compassion muscle.  The struggle isn’t always visible and there’s a huge part that we can play in supporting our friends.        

Key Nuggets:

  • If you have a chronic illness, know that you're not alone!  There are communities like Migraine Mantras ready to support one another.  Sometimes sharing your story can help alleviate the pressure, and who knows, your story can end up helping somebody else! 
  • What it's like to have a chronic illness:
    • It's a constant battle for balance.  They want to be able to go out and do regular things like running errands or coffee with friends but sometimes the body just doesn't allow it.

    • There's a great deal of guilt when they have to cancel plans.  Kind understanding can go a long way.   

  • How can you support somebody who has a chronic illness:
    • The best support is just to listen.  You may not be able to offer a solution but that's not always what they're looking for or needing anyway.
    • Just being there is also a great one.  Again, there might not be anything that can be done about the pain but your presence in itself is comforting.
    • Release judgement of what you think person with chronic illness can and can’t do.
    • Don’t be afraid to console in them.  They want to support you as much as you support them!
  • Brittany's rituals for managing pain:
    • Firstly, know when to say no and know that it’s okay to say no.  Listen to your body and don't push yourself too far.
    • Bubble bath with something soothing for muscles like lavender oil and relax.  Warning against peppermint!  Doesn’t feel so great in a bath. 
    • However, peppermint oil is great for around the head to alleviate some pressure if you have a headache or migraine. 
    • Breathe.  Link breath with song in the bathtub or wherever you are.
  • There's a program called Love Your Brain that provides yoga classes especially for those who have a traumatic brain injury

One of Your Biggest Lessons So Far:                   

Share your story because you deserve to be heard – there is something that you can share.

Also, ask for support and be okay receiving support.    


If you have any questions for Brittany or want to learn more, connect with her through:

Instagram: @beezee89

Facebook: Brittany Zeer

Blog Posts at Migraine Mantras


Love Your Brain – a non profit program specially designed for yoga with brain injuries.