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Mindfulness and mediation have long been applauded for their ability to help a variety of conditions, including high blood pressure, certain psychological disorders, and even pain. But starting a meditative practice and knowing how it applies day to day can be difficult, especially those struggling with complex and sometimes debilitating chronic conditions. This Mental Health Awareness Month, we wanted to provide an opportunity for chronic advocates to learn more about how this practice may help them! We’re partnering with patient advocate and yoga teacher, Ashley Brayden to provide a live breath work tutorial. Join us on Instagram Live @ChronicRights this Thursday at 3 p.m. PDT to learn more about how mindful breath work can have dramatic impacts on your well-being and chronic treatment. All ages and skill levels are welcome. Learn more about Ashley’s journey with chronic disease and yoga below and we’ll see you Thursday! From a young age I was an active kid; I played softball, I danced and was on competitive gymnastics and cheerleading teams. I always knew it was important to be active on a daily basis but why was it so painful? At the age of thirteen, my pain was finally validated and I was diagnosed with Mixed Connective Tissue Disease. MCTD is an overlapping of two or more connective tissue diseases that can affect your joints, muscles, and internal organs like the kidneys. I had done yoga on and off since high school but it wasn’t until about 7 years ago that I started to make it a regular part of my day. When I started, I knew how beneficial it would be physically. In fact, after a few months of classes I was able to increase mobility and flexibility and double my lung capacity. But I never imagined the impact it would have on me mentally and emotionally. I was starting to recognize thought patterns that would lead to anxiety, sometimes even panic attacks. I had become more aware of my body and how I managed pain. I was able to correct habits that would trigger flares. I was even able to cut down on prescriptions. After a year of practicing, I was dying to learn more. I wanted to understand the poses and why they improved the quality of my life. I enrolled in a 200-hour teacher training just wanting to learn. I had no intention of actually teaching a class. But once I started to understand more about the practice, I felt a responsibility to share that knowledge with others. COVID-19 turned my world upside down and forced me to reinvent my business. It’s also when I started sharing more about my illness publicly. Hydroxychloroquine is the one medication that keeps my immune system in check and me alive and the whole world was now talking about it. I was forced to ration which sent me into a flare which triggered panic attacks like never before. It was the first time I had ever advocated for myself in that way and I realized, chronic illness and patient advocacy had to be a part of what I do next. I’m shifting my focus to chronic illness patients. I will be teaching more classes that are joint friendly even accessible during flares, classes that work with resistance bands for strength building in a gentle way, and more meditation. Classes will be live (in person and virtual) on-demand and I have a newsletter and Facebook group that supports it all! Join me and the CDC team next Thursday in a Live Instagram meditation workshop to learn more about how mindfulness can impact your care routine!