Out of the Bag: Hot Yoga

stephanie hughes out of the bag colostomy ileostomy crohn's disease ulcerative colitis inflammatory bowel disease ibd ostomy blog stolen colon ileostomy colostomy urostomy

Hot yoga is new to me. When I was training for my second half-marthon with Team Challenge, my coach suggested that try out some classes because I was having some pretty bad issues with sore muscles and pain that was preventing me from running. So off I went to my first hot yoga classes. I can’t even express how intense they were. I thought I had an idea of what it would be like, but no, it was much more extreme than that.

yoga stretching hot poses downward facing dog rylie stephanie hughes stolen colon ostomy crohns blog

Rylie likes to do yoga with me, too.

But let me just start with yoga in general. I think it is a great option for ostomates and those with IBD. I actually don’t know why I haven’t done more yoga in the past. It has a lot of benefits like breathing techniques which can help with stress (which has always been a flare trigger for me); it’s a great stretching workout while being low impact; and especially for those with ostomies, it has a lot of focus on core strength, but in ways that are easier on the stomach than crunches. Plus, you work on balance and flexibility which just leads to healthier living. I don’t think there is anything in yoga that would be an issue for someone with an ostomy. The only things I can think of would be some of the stretches where you arch backwards, because this could potentially pull your bag off, but as long as you’re careful about that, I find it’s a great option. It’s also smart to be cautious when doing a long series of core exercises. I don’t usually do anything differently, but I just pay extra attention to my bag during that time.

Now hot yoga is a little different. The classes I have taken were your basic easy, stretching class. and some with a bit more advanced flow, vinyasa class (for the non-yoga people out there, this basically means you’re moving through a series of movements consistently, a bit more like choreography). I can honestly say that I’ve never sweat so much in my entire life. Every time I go I leave completely drenched. And I am not a big sweater, by any means. So I was expecting some more sweat than I was used to, but I was not expecting to feel like someone poured a bucket of water over my head.

And this is what makes doing hot yoga with an ostomy a bit more complicated. I found out the first time that I had sweat so much that my bag was loosened around the edges and I actually got a leak in the middle of the night because of it. (It may have just been coincidence, but I doubt it.) So for my second class, I tried something different. I have an ostomy belt (that I was graciously given by Pouchwear) and I thought that it might help with absorbing some of the sweat and keeping the bag dry. It actually worked really well! It kept the edges of my bag dry and they didn’t pull away at all. Yes, it’s a little uncomfortable to have an extra layer on, but in my opinion, totally worth it.

I do have to make sure I stay well hydrated while I’m doing this. I often down about a liter of water each hour-long class. Yoga classes are definitely helpful, especially for someone who tends to stay fairly tense, as I often do. It really does help you stretch out muscles in ways that you are unable to do just on your own. (UPDATE: Doing hot yoga made a huge difference in running the race I mentioned at the beginning. I was having a lot of pain and issues prior to the race, but I was able to run it without any issues and I think doing these stretches played a big role in that.)

I definitely recommend giving hot yoga a try. I understand that it may not be for everyone and that it could cause issues with the bag coming loose, so I do recommend some sort of wrap that not only covers the bag from the top, but that covers the flange area, too, (so it’s basically covering both sides of the bag) because I do think it can possibly cause issues otherwise.

Have any of you had any good or bad experience with yoga and/or hot yoga and an ostomy? Any suggestions for other ostomates?

Sit down, stay a while. I'd love to hear from you.

  1. Hi Stephanie! My nephew Brian Muoio suggested your blog. I am 9 months out from having my ileostomy surgery. About a month ago I started yoga again and I must say my abdominal muscles, which were incredibly weak and flabby, have tightened up a bit. I am pleased with that of course but, I do find that some of the twisting poses and bending poses create some discomfort for me with the ostomy. I tend to over do it so I have to remind myself it isn’t just me anymore, I have ‘Rosey’ to consider too (yes, that’s my stoma’s name! LOL). I have not, however, tried Hot Yoga. I did experience a hot day a few weeks ago, though, where my bag was soaking wet against my skin and the edges lifted up on my. Summer is definitely going to be a challenge especially when I exercise!

    Thanks for sharing your story!

    • So great to hear from you, Mary Jo. Brian and Amanda are such good people. And I agree, a few of the poses I realize are going to be a bit more difficult, or perhaps should just been passed over all together, but that’s good to hear that you’ve been finding success with toning up. I’m a year out from my first surgery and really haven’t done many core strengthening exercises since then, so I’m realizing how out of shape they are! But I think this is going to be a good option for helping that. If you don’t have one already, I’d recommend getting some sort of wrap or belt. I even have some cheap maternity belts from Target that have been so essential to me, especially when wearing dresses or on really hot days.

  2. Hi Stephanie!

    I’m Faith, a casual blogger, and I often read your posts. I think that you’re doing yoga is so great! Kudos to trying hot yoga– I’ve heard it can get really intense!!! 3 months out of my fist end ileostomy surgery I tried doing beginner yoga and it does make your body feel great! I always leave a yoga session feeling taller and more at peace. I did get a little sore around my stoma with some of the twists, but I listened to my body and stopped twisting so much. Now I have a loop ileostomy and am not quite recovered enough to get back into yoga yet.

    Since I follow your blog, I nominated you for the versatile blogger award. I know you have been nominated by at least one other person, but I thought I would let you know and give you the link to it 🙂 http://theflowrylife.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/online-community-appreciation-the-versatile-blogger-award/

    Good luck running your race!!


    • Faith, thank you so much for your message and your nomination. That really does mean a lot to me. I love reading your blog and am glad to hear that things seem to be going well for you. Do you have a date yet for your final surgery? Mine to make my ileostomy permanent is less than a week away, so I’m getting a little anxious, but mostly just will be glad to have it over with.

      I hope your reconnection continues to go smoothly and that it’s a great change for you!

  3. I love Yoga and think it is the best compliment to running! I wish I practiced it more often but since it requires me to actually get up and go to a class at a certain time, as opposed to picking up and running whenever it is convenietn, I don’t get to classes too often. I hope your classes help sooth your sore muscles and you have a great race in a few days. Can’t wait to read all about it!

    • I completely agree! I love doing yoga and it’s such a great compliment to running, but the hardest part is committing to the class. But it’s definitely been helping the past week or so. I’m trying to give myself a bit of a rest before the race. Hopefully I’ll be able to make it to that finish line!

  4. Hi Stephanie,
    I am a yoga teacher with a new student with a bag. Can you give me any do’s and don’ts i can pass on to my student? At the moment we are just sort of working it out between us.
    I just feel a bit useless at the moment.

  5. Hi Stephanie,
    I had an ileostomy for about a year (was reconnected with a J pouch a couple of years ago. Much like you, I was a distance runner prior to surgery, then wanted to remain active, while “on the pouch”. The best thing I found that I used for all activities (running, stretching, even swimming) was a maternity belt, or there were these “as seen on TV” items called trendy tops. They would absorb sweat, as well as keep the pouch in place actively moving around. It worked out well for me, and I was able to get back into being active again. Hope this is helpful information for your followers.

  6. Stephanie, I’ve just returned to doing yoga. I find it is helps with my core & stretching the scars from my surgeries. The only issue I have during yoga is gas & my bag ballooning. I make sure to not eat a lot before class.
    Thank you for your blog posts! They are very helpful coming from a fellow ostomate.