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By Elaine O’Rourke

As I yoga teacher I was fortunate that I had developed mind-body practices to really help with the emotional roller-coaster ride of getting my ostomy. I was 35 years old when I got my ileostomy due to Crohn’s disease. I opted to make it permanent after a year and then I made a full recovery and have felt amazing for the last 13 years.

While I was deathly ill and recovering from surgeries, the focused breathing practices helped me the most. I had complications from the surgeries so it took some time to really get back into the physical practice of the yoga poses. I had to be very mindful of any poses that stretched my scar sites. But gradually my body healed and I am able to do everything.

Luckily yoga has so much more to offer and there is something for every body. There are deep healing practices such as restorative, yin, breathing, mindfulness, meditation, mantra. The philosophy provides insights into being more aware of our thoughts and then in turn how they may be affecting our emotions and physical states.

Personally, I have gained so much insight and a much broader perspective on how to look at life. No one wants to get ill or have an ostomy but it has taught me first-hand how to be resilient, how much inner strength I have and to value my life and live it to the fullest.

I truly believe in the importance of moving the body (provided you are well enough) getting outside, breathing the fresh air, absorbing the sunlight or sitting under a shady tree is so good for us this time of year. Personally, I try and get up early in the summer months and go down the beach to walk, swim, do yoga and surf (being out early is best for my Irish skin). I also teach yoga on the beach which is a great experience.

It can be intimating to go to a yoga class and to find the right one. There is a wide variety of classes and styles. How you resonate with the teacher has a lot to do with the experience too. If you are brand new to yoga then I suggest starting with gentle, restorative or beginner yoga. If you don’t like a class or teacher then try other ones. It’s like shopping, not everything fits right and it’s the same with yoga. Do tell the instructor that you have an ostomy and you can educate them on what it is! Always empty your bag beforehand and don’t hesitate to go to the bathroom throughout the class if you feel it fill up. You want to create a comfortable environment for yourself. It doesn’t matter what other people think. If you have a hernia then make sure to wear your hernia belt and move cautiously.

I’ll be teaching Rise and Shine Yoga for Every Body at UOAA’s National Conference in Philadelphia this August. It will be a fun way to wake up and be part of this experience. Whether you are brand new to yoga or a seasoned practitioner I hope you will join me. I am a lighthearted teacher and I definitely don’t take the practice or teaching too seriously. In fact, if you can have a bit of a laugh while doing yoga then that is a bonus in my opinion!

I hope you enjoy the short yoga video of some standing poses.

ElaineOrourke.com

 

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Exercise your fitness options with these helpful tips

by Wil Walker, MBA, BSN, RN, WOC Nurse Manager, Clinical Education, Hollister Incorporated

When is it safe to start exercising after ostomy surgery?
Stoma surgery is a major event that should not be underestimated. The first few weeks or even months following the operation may be difficult as you adjust gradually to having a stoma. The easiest and most effective form of exercise can be walking. It’s best to check with your healthcare provider to determine the right time for you to begin exercising, as every person can be different.

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I’m nervous about doing sit-ups and crunches because I have heard that I could develop a hernia. Are there precautions I can take to avoid this?
There may be a risk you will develop a hernia around your stoma that can be associated with straining or heavy lifting during strenuous abdominal activity. You can help prevent the development of a peristomal hernia by taking certain precautions. Keep your weight in check and talk with your surgeon before resuming any abdominal exercises.

How will I know that I am sufficiently hydrated?
One good sign of being well hydrated is passing clear or straw-colored urine throughout the day. Dehydration can be a concern for overachievers, whether they have stomas or not. Drink plenty of fluids at every opportunity to avoid problems with your stoma and with dehydration.

I am still very tired after my surgery. What kind of exercise can I do to start out?
Begin by walking in your house. Special videos and DVDs, or even just some invigorating music will help set the pace. You might practice going up and down stairs to increase stamina and endurance. But, if weather permits, walk outside in the fresh air to help boost your physical and mental spirits!

I love swimming but I’m nervous that my pouch will become loose in the water. Is there anything I can do to make sure this doesn’t happen?
This is a valid concern for a person with an ostomy. To determine how your pouch might perform while swimming, it is recommended to “test” your pouch. Sit in bath water for a while and assure yourself that the seal stays snug and leak-free.sports and fitness with an ostomy, sports, fitness, exercise, active living, colostomy, ileostomy, urostomy

I ran my first marathon after ostomy surgery and little red marks appeared on my stoma. What are these and should I be concerned?
With a lot of running, little red marks similar to mouth ulcers might appear on the stoma because of rubbing or chafing. They should heal quickly and disappear with rest. If they don’t resolve, contact your healthcare professional.

When I exercise I perspire a lot. Is there anything I can use to avoid chafing around my pouch?
If your pouch fits properly and is not too long, it should not touch or rub against the skin. Empty your pouch before any strenuous activity as well to decrease the weight of your pouch. Consider using a pouch that has a comfort panel to avoid the pouch film from rubbing against your skin.

Have a question that wasn’t answered here? Check out this helpful new brochure from Hollister Incorporated. Living with an Ostomy: Sports & Fitness.

Hollister Secure Start services provide ongoing support to people living with an ostomy. We are here to help! Call us today at 1.888.808.7456.

Editor’s note: This educational article is from one of our digital sponsors, Hollister Incorporated. Sponsor support along with donations from readers like you help to maintain our website and the free trusted resources of UOAA, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.