A self-described "fit 55-year-old," Kelly McAleer has been a practicing yoga since her mother introduced her to it as a child. The Ontario native stumbled upon an advertisement for Namaste Yoga several years ago. She tried it and was immediately hooked.
"I really enjoy the settings chosen for the programme and the narrator's voice is just perfect — so calm and soothing," Kelly explains.
Always a health-conscious person who also lives with asthma, Kelly was caught off guard one day when she felt as though she was having a severe asthma attack. The freelance photographer, mother of two and grandmother of three, found no relief from her usual treatment with an inhaler. Kelly experienced intense chest pain and found even water from the shower striking her body was unbearably painful.
"I decided to go to the hospital for an asthma treatment," Kelly recalls. "When the treatment did not improve my breathing, the doctor became concerned and ordered two blood tests: one for [blood] clots and one to measure heart enzymes."
Kelly was ultimately diagnosed with pulmonary emboli, commonly known as blood clots, in both lungs. She would spend a year on blood thinners. Later, she was also diagnosed with Hughes Syndrome, a rare blood disorder in which antibodies attack the blood and make blood clots.
Even while in the hospital, Kelly's instincts were to keep moving.
"As soon as the crisis passed, I began to do as many stretches and bends as I could, right in the hospital," Kelly shares. She is glad to have lived, which may not have been the case had she not listened to her instincts and gone to the hospital when she did. Upon her return home, she realized having a routine to follow was helpful.
"I would tune in to Namaste, sit on my mat and do as many of the seated postures as I could," Kelly recounts. "I had to stay seated as I was unable to balance safely while standing, due to lowered blood pressure, a side effect of taking a blood thinner. After awhile, I was able to stand up and return to doing all of the postures."
Kelly also added one-pound weights to portions of her routine to help maintain bone density. In addition to a lot of other intensive physical therapy, Namaste Yoga helped Kelly return to health with strength and balance. Recently, she has also been able to put some focus back into her photography. While she is still adjusting to many necessary lifestyle changes, her dedication to keeping a positive attitude and continuing her yoga practice helps her stay focused on managing her condition.
"I like contemplative poses (like seated postures) because they are very expressive and create good feelings for me," Kelly says. "I have learned patience and the true benefits of yoga as a recovery therapy. Life is short so enjoy right now and do your best to look after your body."