Never knowing when the next flare will strike or what the day is going to bring is physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting. Through my more than 13 years battling Crohn’s disease, I’ve found it incredibly cathartic to carve out a few hours each week to exercise and meditate.

Now, I was one of those people who never wanted to try yoga and didn’t really believe in the power of meditation. I have always loved sports and running—exercise that left me sweating and my heart racing, but yoga and meditation changed that.

If you’re on the fence about whether or not to try yoga or meditation with IBD, I strongly recommend you give it a shot. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Here are the ways yoga and meditation help me with my Crohn’s.

1. I’ve Realized How Amazing My Body Really Is

Yoga has taught me to honor my body and the work it does day in and day out. When you live with a chronic illness, it’s easy to have negative feelings about your body and health. That negativity and self-pity hinders how we take on our disease. To me—it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. If I allow myself to go to a place of negativity mentally, it carries over into my attitude. If I take time to love myself and my body it reminds me that even though I have Crohn’s disease, my body is still doing amazing things each day.

2. Surprise: It Leaves Me Relaxed and Energized

In particular, meditation—whether just taking a few moments in the shower or practicing mindful breathing in my bedroom—calms my heart.

3. It Helps Me Manage My Crohn’s Symptoms

Taking on IBD is no small feat, it can be incredibly exhausting and trying. This is a beneficial way to be proactive and ahead of symptoms. Think of yoga and meditation as a crutch to lean on, an extra support. What’s more: You can practice in the comfort of your home or in a studio.

young woman sitting and practicing yoga meditation to help relieve Crohn's symptoms

4. I’m Able to Stay Present

While practicing yoga and meditation, I’m focused on the moment. Not what could happen. Not the pain that you’ve been feeling. Not the upcoming scope or surgery. Just the now. The moment that I am in.

I celebrate my bravery, celebrate all I’ve endured and all that I’ve yet to accomplish, despite my illness. And you should too. You owe it to yourself.

5. Yoga Helps Me Celebrate My Daily Efforts

With yoga, I can exist as Natalie, and not Natalie with Crohn’s disease. It’s amazing how being mindful of my breath and closing my eyes can help detach me from daily stressors.

6. I Can Retreat to a Safe Space of Solitude

So much of my disease seems to get activated by my daily stress. I’ve found that by taking time for myself, staying on schedule with my medications and seeking care from my health care team, I’m able to stay in remission and feel my best.

7. It Feels Like I’m Hitting the Reset Button

I’m nourishing my body with energy, peace-filled thoughts and everything else it takes to move forward and take on another day. I know it’s that bottled up strength that will get me through the next time I find myself hospitalized and taking on a flare.

Finding the Right Release for You

Although our patient journeys are ever-changing and unique to each of us—we have something in common. We are dealing with an invisible illness; that’s not easy, in fact, it takes a great deal of patience and resilience. My hope is we all find the right tools to help us live a full life with IBD.


Author Natalie (Sparacio) Hayden is a former TV news anchor with Crohn’s disease. Her blog, “Lights, Camera, Crohn’s: An Unobstructed View” (lightscameracrohns.com) covers everything from overcoming struggles to celebrating small victories. As a passionate health advocate, journalist, wife, and mom, she strives to show there is more to life than your diagnosis and illness.

Oshi is a tracking tool and content resource. It does not render medical advice or services, and it is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. You should always review this information with your healthcare professionals.