By Meghan Reyes
Lori Pierce has discovered a way to help relieve pain caused by the rare disease scleroderma.
38 to 341 in one million individuals per million throughout the world develop scleroderma. Common symptoms of Scleroderma may include tightening of the skin and joint pain. It can take a toll on one’s skin, joints and tendons.
Pierce was diagnosed with scleroderma in 2002, and, in 2010, she quit her job.
“It got to the point where I couldn’t touch my toes, tie my shoes or get dressed by myself. I tried everything for pain relief and eventually I tried gentle yoga,” Pierce said.
Pierce began doing gentle yoga aimed towards individuals with severe joint issues. With the help of her first yoga instructor, adaptations made to each pose and massage therapy, the pain caused by her scleroderma began to subside.
“I didn’t plan to start teaching yoga classes, but my yoga teacher ‘lovingly bullied’ me into getting a certification to teach yoga,” Pierce said.
In 2014, Pierce trained to become a yoga teacher. She didn’t intend to teach, at first. Her worry was an inability to teach individuals with ‘normal’ bodies because she hasn’t had experience with a ‘normal’ body.
“If I could give one word of advice to other scleroderma patients, it would be to advocate for yourself. No one knows your body better than you do. Since scleroderma is so rare, many doctors don’t know how to treat it.”
In 2017, Pierce met Kathy Randolph of Yoga for Scleroderma. Pierce and Randolph joined forces and, with Randolph’s years of teaching and Pierce’s first hand experience, they have helped many people find relief for their scleroderma symptoms.
Each scleroderma body is unique, and for each patient different adaptations must be made. Due to COVID-19, Pierce and Randolph aren’t holding in person yoga sessions. Meetings will be held over Zoom until further notice.