A Yoga Therapy Case Study: IBS

Jeanine McSorley has been studying in the Breathing Deeply Advanced Yoga Therapy Program under the mentorship of Brandt Passalacqua.

We had some time to catch up with one of our Advanced Program students to learn more about an experience she had working with a 47-year-old self-proclaimed over-achiever, who had just retired from a high powered job only to be diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome, pain in her lower sacrum, a very sore and swollen right knee and wasn’t able to sleep more than 3 hours every night.

Jeanine takes us through the methods she used to quickly reduce the IBS symptoms, improve her client’s sleep dramatically and help her feel better overall.

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Transcription:

Brandt Passalacqua:

We’re here with Jeanine. And she’s going to tell us about a client she worked with. Why don’t you just give us an idea of who she was and what she came to you for.

Jeanine McSorley:

Yes. She’s a 47-year-old female who came with a diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease. So, she has an autoimmune disease which she said started about eight months after she retired from a very high powered job. She said this job was profit-driven, and so the more she worked, the more she earned. She worked hard and made a lot of money and she kind of connected those two together.

Jeanine

In addition to increased stools – she was having at least 15 a day, she also had some pain in her lower sacrum that was diagnosed as ankylosing spondylitis. There was some swelling and pain in her right knee that was diagnosed as erythema nodosum, which is an inflammatory disease. So she had stools. She had some pain. And she had difficulty sleeping.

Her goals for yoga therapy included reducing the pain and improving her sleep. She said lack of sleep was her biggest problem. She was getting about three hours of sleep a night. And she was waking, not just because of the stools, but because of the stress. She also had a history of some migraines. So we kind of took all of that into consideration as I developed her plan.

Brandt

Okay. How did you start? Maybe you could give us what you did in the first few sessions and how that affected her.

Jeanine

Yeah. The way that I saw it was an Ayurveda there’s the doshas. And so this Type A sense that she had about herself, and she even called herself a reformed overachiever, is that Pitta nature of her that wants to really push, even though she was sick. She was teaching yoga and exercising a lot, but she also had some Vata imbalance, which is that inability to slow down.

So I worked with her Vata, this sense of depletion and a lot of moving, breathing, Asana practices that really began with this posture of Crocodile Makarasana, because I needed to slow her way down. Even the way she taught. She was very fast-talking. She was very excited. She was very motivated, but also this sense of wanting to connect her breath with her movements, so that was the first thing we worked on. And then just all the Asana that I recommended for her was this idea of moving, breathing, like Cat-Cow, the sequence of moving from Cat-Cow to Down Dog, to Child, and then a progressive relaxation or Yoga Nidra. So that’s kind of how we began.

Brandt

Did she enjoy that practice?

Jeanine

She loved it.

Brandt

She did. Okay.

Jeanine

I was a little bit nervous. I’m not going to lie. She was super strong and she does hot yoga. So I was like, “How is she going to respond to this?” She loved it. And she said that she felt very nourished, which was a word that she said she doesn’t tend to feel in her practice.

Brandt

So she did these practices, maybe adjusted them.

Jeanine

Yeah.

Brandt

What happened because of them? What were the results?

Jeanine

I worked with her over a three-month period. We saw each other six times. I tweaked her practice here and there. And over time, her sleep improved from three hours a night to ultimately seven to eight hours a night. Her stools decreased originally from 15 down to five, then down to three.

Brandt

Per day?

Jeanine

Yeah, per day.

Brandt

That’s good.

Jeanine

And then just overall she felt better. Somewhere in there she did start taking Humira. She was really hoping that she wouldn’t have to, but she did. Oh, and her pain also decreased while using this Vata balancing, moving, breathing Asana.

Brandt

So when you were finished working with her did you feel that she thought she had practices she could use, and it was a success?

Jeanine

Definitely.

Brandt

The thing I’m most struck by hearing you speak is the reduction in symptoms. I think you mentioned before this call, it was quick, right? Like how long before she noticed?

Jeanine

Really, it was after the first time that we met. After a couple of weeks, she definitely noticed a decrease in the amount of stool, the number of stools she had per day and a slight increase in her sleep. 

Brandt

So she had something to work with. She had motivation right away.

Jeanine

Right. But she had also heard of Yoga Nidra. And so I recommended that she go ahead and practice that. I think she had downloaded the recording but said she hadn’t really started. So she started listening to that at least once a day and then twice a day, so that was also part of her practice that I think benefited her.

Brandt

Great, great. Well, thanks. It’s always nice to hear successes in the way it can go, and you clearly made some good choices right at the beginning. So that’s good for you. Thank you.

Info Session

Brandt talks about common questions applicants have about the Breathing Deeply Yoga Therapy Program. Tune in to get the full program details.