Yoga for Pain – Featured Yogi – Devon Healey

Namaste Yoga Medicine community!  We are happy to announce Devon Healey as our Share Your Story featured yogi for the month of May.  Devon is a nurse and yoga teacher who discovered yoga while working with organ transplant patients. She quickly noticed that the lessons she was learning in her practice were applicable in treating patients who were suffering from severe pain. Feeling inspired, Devon began integrating basic yogic principles into her nursing care to assist people in healing. Devon currently resides in Luxembourg with her husband. Prior to her move, she spent four years working as a nurse in public health. She found herself integrating yoga modalities to treat chronically homeless and substance abusing adults. Read all about Devon’s story below and follow her on Instagram.

Two healthcare practitioners meditating. This month's featured yogi discusses yoga for pain relief in organ transplant patients.

Yoga for Pain

In 2008, I worked as a nurse in solid organ transplant (kidney, pancreas and liver.)  I often took care of seriously ill patients with profound pain issues. During this time I had become deeply involved and dedicated to my yoga practice (mostly because it kept me sane from my crazy and stressful job!). Over a series of days, I had a patient who had undergone a transplant and was experiencing severe pain all over her body. She had a PCA (patient controlled analgesia) with high dose Dilaudid and various other narcotic prescriptions, none of which seemed to help with her pain. On the third day of taking care of her and giving bolus doses of narcotics, I realized we needed to try something different.

As I waited for the doctor to call me back I sat next to her and asked her to breathe with me. Between sobs and the clutching of the bed rails, we began to breathe ujyai together, deeply, slowly. At first, she was skeptical, crying and very frustrated but slowly she followed my rhythm and occasionally would look into my eyes for reassurance. We stayed that way for quite a while, her heart rate slowed and gradually she let go of the bed rails, I stayed present with her the whole time, breath to breath, eye to eye. When the doctor arrived, her pain remained but was much less acute and she was able to communicate what she needed, clearly and calmly.

Yoga & Nursing

It was the first time in my nursing career I realized that yoga was more than just a physical practice.  And that’s when I began my teaching journey. I’ve used so many yogic techniques in my nursing practice over the years. Even though I no longer work in transplant, I still feel a strong connection to yoga as medicine. My teaching has changed and grown and continues to evolve but I’m still so grateful for the opportunity to learn about the human body and the capacity connection and non- traditional methods of healing play in our recovery and discovery of life.

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