We have heard and read many times that the regular practice of yoga can improve our health, change our behaviour and the way we face our everyday problems. Now, I think it is important for people to know of the experience of such a person as myself who succeeded in recovering from an illness which all the doctors had described as incurable.
Ever since early childhood, I was a very weak person - too thin, too pale. If I was asked to compare myself to a plant I would say some kind of creeper or vine. I had anaemia: my blood pressure was too low and I always felt tired. All through my childhood I heard 'She is anaemic; it is a hereditary characteristic and nothing can be done about it'. Meat was made the basis of my diet and each day I received a supplement of concentrated meat juice and an almost raw piece of liver. In addition to this, I had to take many tonics and was subject to numerous infections.
All these problems, however, didn't prevent me from leading a normal life - studying, working, traveling etc. - but all physical exertion required an enormous effort of will as I always felt so tired. Everything was compounded when I become pregnant I began fainting all the time, was greatly anaemic .and my blood pressure was way too low. I had to spend, literally, months in bed.
When I was expecting my third child, the problem became so serious that I had to spend the entire pregnancy in bed, receiving three blood transfusions a week. I was very depressed and felt as if I was some kind of incubator running on human blood instead of electricity. After my daughter was born I had all kinds of tests ranging from inner ear examinations to electroencephalograms to try to discover the cause of my fainting, but there were no clear results.
One day a doctor was examining me and my blood pressure fell suddenly to a dangerously low level. I started taking all kinds of drugs to try and normalize it, but it remained consistently low, and my weakness and fainting spells became more pronounced.
Fortunately I never lost my courage and I had faith that I could and would recover. I had plenty of time to analyse my life and felt that I had a body from the 18th century and a mind from the 20th. I took a good look at myself and decided to live in accordance with my mind rather than be dominated by the condition of my body. I also decided not to accept things which I instinctively felt I shouldn't.
My real revolt began when a leading doctor prescribed tranquillizer drugs and I simply stood my ground and refused to take them, saying that I wanted to live a fully conscious life and not as a zombie. He asked me how I thought I was going to treat myself if I wasn't going to follow his instructions and to my surprise I heard myself answering 'Yoga'.
Up until this time, the only information I had about yoga was a book which I had forgotten, but as an eastern saying goes 'When the disciple is ready, the teacher will appear'. After some time I saw a report in a newspaper about a yoga teacher who had just arrived in Santiago, so I visited him and arranged an appointment for the next day. I told him all about my problems and limitations and he answered, 'Don't worry - I'm sure that if you practice seriously and with faith, you can recover and you will recover'. Little by little I started to practice pawanmuktasana series, pranayama and relaxation. I remember that when I was practicing pranayama' I told myself, 'I'm going to normalize my blood pressure and I will make myself better. I am receiving energy and eliminating all my toxins and negative thoughts'. Gradually I began to improve and even began to do without the medicines for both the anaemia and the blood pressure.
When the doctors saw the changes, they agreed that I was benefiting from yoga but were adamant that I would never recover from the anaemia, saying that there were irreversible changes in the spleen and bone marrow. I thought, 'Well, I'm asking a miracle of yoga'. My whole attitude to life had changed during this time and I was sure that if one was really determined to achieve something, it would happen.
One day I was discussing the benefits of yoga practice with a friend who was a doctor and I told him that the only thing I really couldn't expect to be cured of through yoga was the anaemia, He looked at me and recommended that I have some more tests taken because I didn't look at all anaemic to him. I did this and was amazed to find that the results were completely normal. I was cured. This story I am telling you is twenty years old. You can imagine what happened with my family as I began to eat less and less meat, finally stopping altogether, but when they saw I was suffering no ill effects, they let me go my own way. Since then I have never had a recurrence of either anaemia or fainting. It wasn't a miracle. It was the regular practice of yoga with faith and steadiness.