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Davinia discovered her passion for yoga just six months before her psoriatic arthritis diagnosis. Now a certified yoga teacher, she shares her experiences and how the practice has helped her to manage her condition.
I cannot remember the first time I had symptoms of psoriatic arthritis. When I was a child, I was always ill or recovering from a fall, I was quite clumsy. I remember going to the doctors a lot and not being well, it was just normal to me. My immune system wasn’t very strong and I had a tendency to have tonsillitis whenever my defences were low. At that time, I was given many injections and lots of antibiotics.
I was about sixteen years old when I first noticed psoriasis on my skin. It was during my exams – so, stress related, I guess. My diet wasn’t great either, but at that time I wasn’t aware of what a healthy diet meant.
My condition is hereditary. My mum has had psoriasis since she was a girl, and she subsequently developed arthritis, although she was never diagnosed. When I was young, I remember she had a constant pain in her wrists, elbows and knees. She became used to the idea of feeling pain as part of her everyday life.
I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis seven years ago, just one week before my life-changing trip to India. After my previous experiences with prescription drugs and the way they made me feel, I immediately said to my doctor that I didn’t want to start any treatments but I’d rather make some changes to my lifestyle. He recommended a change in my diet and to keep active, then he handed me a booklet about yoga. It felt like it was meant to be! The main focus of my upcoming trip to India was to become a yoga teacher.
I had discovered yoga six months earlier, having done one month of intensive practice of Bikram yoga at a studio in London. I immediately fell in love with the way it made me feel.
Before yoga, I used to wake up with pain in my hands (most days with one or two fingers really swollen, and with no mobility – sausage fingers). Pain in my feet and my neck too, and sometimes also in my wrists, knees and hips. Again, this was ‘normal’ for me.
After just one month of intensive yoga practice, and also drinking no alcohol, I couldn’t believe how much my body had changed. I had gained so much energy and my pains were much improved. Shortly after, my husband (my boyfriend at the time) and I decided to take a break from our busy lives to embark on an adventure to India to become yoga teachers.
Through yoga I have healed myself. Not only did I manage to control my psoriatic arthritis but also, I was able to become pregnant naturally with only one fallopian tube (which doctors had told me it was of no use).
My husband and I had created a moonlit ritual on a beach in Kerala at the end of our trip to India, and I become pregnant one month after! We strongly believe that we manifested this miracle.
Now I am a yoga teacher, and my son is almost 6 years old. For the last six years I have used this ancient practice as a medicine, for myself and for others.
For me yoga is not just a series of physical exercises, it’s a way of living and a way of interacting with life. Learning how to breathe, how to move properly to protect and strengthen your body and how to create the life you want to live. The classes I teach are safe, based on proper alignment of the body and balanced with mind and breath. I encourage my students to move forward, to challenge themselves - always looking for a good stretch as well as strengthening the body and mind.
You can also catch up with Davinia on her Instagram page.