Overcoming Lupus through a Daily Yoga Practice – Featured Yogi Aura Frey

by Darla Brown on April 17, 2009

Three years ago Aura Tether Frey, a yogi in Mississippi, felt some painful swelling in her joints and muscles. Thinking it was rheumatoid arthritis, which runs in her family, she asked her doctor to test her blood. When the results came back, she was shocked to learn it was lupus. Lupus is a disorder where the immune system gets confused and turns on the body. Normally, the immune system is designed to attack foreign substances in the body. With lupus, the immune system attacks healthy cells and tissues. This can damage many parts of the body including joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs and even the brain. Lupus can cause several painful symptoms including painful or swollen joints, fever, rashes, loss of hair, chest pain, extreme fatigue, and in some cases can lead to death.

Aura in inverted plank pose Aura in inverted plank pose

Aura had practiced yoga off and on for over 10 years, but she had kept falling out of practice for one reason or another. Around the time she was diagnosed with lupus, she felt an inner call to devote herself more fully to her practice. “In retrospect,” she shares, “I feel that my higher self knew yoga is what I needed and that’s what was calling to me.”

Since reigniting her yoga practice three years ago, she rarely misses a day of practice. “In the past three years, I haven’t had hardly a flare up at all and when I have (rarely) it’s so minor that it’s totally acceptable! Even my bloodwork is almost normal! Only the fatigue slows me down, but not often. That’s the best thing yoga has done for me. Lupus can destroy so much, but I think yoga gives me an edge to defying it.”

In rural Mississippi where she lives, there are no yoga classes or yoga studios. Aura maintains her practice at home and has taught herself yoga by watching yoga videos, reading books, and through research on the Internet. “People scoff at yoga DVDs, but they can be a great aid in starting or continuing a practice.” Through her home practice, she not only has managed the potentially devastating symptoms brought on by Lupus, but she has also gained physical strength and mental clarity and focus.

She finds it challenging to convince other people in her area to understand the importance and benefits of yoga. “It’s not just for tree huggers and hippies,” she jokes. She shares her practice with her kids and has found they have a natural desire to do what mom is doing. “Kids are natural yogis anyways, right? Just look at the way babies move.”

Just as yoga called her to a regular practice three years ago, Aura now feels the calling to teach yoga professionally some day. “The journey brings more growth than one could expect.” Aura’s daily practice of yoga has given her much more than she herself ever expected. “Just be open and patient — the blessings will come.”

Aura is pictured in these photos and in the main photo (upper right) in Standing Bow Pose.

Darla Brown

Founder at Share Yoga
Darla Brown is the founder of Share Yoga and a certified yoga teacher. Darla's love of yoga started over 20 years ago. She has taken teacher training and intensives with master teacher Max Strom as well as Jamie Elmer, Kyra Haglund, Luke Ketterhagen and Nancy Goodstein. Darla's practice focuses on breath and healing.

{ 17 comments }

darla April 17, 2009 at 2:08 pm

Thank you Aura. I am so moved by your story.

Scott April 17, 2009 at 5:59 pm

What a great story that really demonstrates the healing power of Yoga!

gaileee April 18, 2009 at 12:44 pm

I’d be interested in which were her favorite DVD’s and why.

I teach one evening class, and I have clients ask me for recommendations for Yoga DVD’s. Thanks!

gaileee

gaileee’s last blog post..Birth Ball use in prenatal yoga

caity April 19, 2009 at 3:08 pm

aunt jamie you have inspiredd me so much. haha.
maybe i will tryy and do yogaa in my spare time!(:

Deborah April 20, 2009 at 1:11 pm

you are so cool & to think yoga has helped you thru so much it is really awesome!!! you go girl!!! i am very proud of you for going forth and doing something that not only helps you healthwise but that you enjoy. you are a true inspiration to me and i pray to others that read your story.

aura April 21, 2009 at 10:40 am

@gailee i know this isn’t the greatest answer, but honestly, the very first video (yup, long before dvds were as common) that i started with, i can’t even remember the name. it’s been a long time ago. however, that routine is still part of my currant practice; i just built upon it, ya know? i still do constant research on yoga, though; it’s my only way of learning, at the moment and has already taught me so much. youtube and gaiam have lots of helpful videos, blogs/sites just like ShareYoga give great insight, yoga journal magazine/site has been helpful as well as simple photos of others in various poses. it all comes together and inspires me to grow. i admire and respect all other yogis and what they have to teach me. THEY help ME without knowing it:) i’m sorry i can’t give you a more specific title — i’m just a perpetual student, trying to gather as much info from as many sources as possible.

Anita April 25, 2009 at 9:55 pm

That is very inspiring, Aura, Thank you for sharing your story. Sometimes its things like this that get us going.

katrogers April 28, 2009 at 4:48 pm

Wow, what an inspiring story. I love Aura’s dedication and motivation to do yoga at home everyday. That’s so impressive. You’re going to be an amazing teacher. Good Luck, Aura~

Kat Rogers April 28, 2009 at 4:50 pm

Wow, what an inspiring story. I am so impressed with your dedication and motivation to do yoga everyday at home. You’re going to be an amazing teacher. Good Luck~

Kat Rogers’s last blog post..I’m so happy & thankful now that…

Daisy Seale-Barnes November 18, 2009 at 2:35 pm

Hi

I just read your story and was really pleased to see how much yoga has helped you cope with the lupus. I think it is especially amazing that it has inspired you to go on to teach yoga – I think a yoga teacher with specialism in dealing with lupus would be invaluable.

I also have lupus and find yoga is vital to managing it. I have written about it on my blog if you are interested:
http://livingwellwithlupus.blogspot.com/2009/11/yoga-and-lupus-introduction.html

I wish you the best of luck on your yogic path.

Tiffany Mann January 26, 2011 at 3:55 pm

Hello,

Enjoyed your article. I have lupus and fibromyalgia. I am interested in learning what yoga moves are beneficial for lupus.

Thanks bunches,

Tiffany

shanta February 10, 2012 at 9:45 pm

shanta what a owesome story. I started teaching yoga 1 year ago yoga is a wonderful cure for the mind. Aura one of my student diagnose lupus do u have any suggestion. How to help her.

Divya Singh August 12, 2012 at 3:46 am

Hi Aura! I found your article very inspiring. I am suffering from SLE too. I have also been trying to stick to yoga practices but it is just that I keep falling, one the reasons is obviously the fatigue and energy loss but luckily in last 10-days I am looking-out for good diet-plan however,any diet-plan is incomplete without exercise and the point where I find myself at fix is that I love pranayam but I do not know what asanas would particularly help me? I am very fond of suryanamaskars too but cannot do more than 3 rounds in 5 mins. Get worried for my joints. Actually I am from India and here we find lot of yoga teachers but very few know how to cater to lupus population? So I WOULD BE VERY GLAD IF U CAN SHARE YOUR YOGA ASANAS? ALSO IF U CAN SUGGEST BOOKS AND VIDEOS THAT U FOUND VERY HELPFUL, in particular?

shrinivas September 6, 2012 at 10:10 am

even i do have the same querries which anita has asked…
my girl friend is suffering from s.l.e… please let me know about the names of yoga exercises which she has to pratice….
please help me out of this…

shrinivas September 6, 2012 at 10:17 am

Sorry i took anita’s name by mistake…
my queries r same dat of divya singh…

Divya Singh November 25, 2012 at 11:52 am

Hey Shrinivas, if you are based in Mumbai then you can ask your girlfriend to get in touch me. I am planning to start a ‘lupus-group’ in Mumbai just as in other parts of the World.I think sharing our issues and feelings with people having similar difficulties is a good way to get rid of lot bottle-ups. Besides,I feel people suffering from similar medical conditions do a better job in understanding and comforting each-other. Contact me on dabs84@gmail.com

Charlotte May 11, 2013 at 10:39 pm

Hi, my name is Charlotte. My cousin forwarded an article about you to my phone. I found the article very interesting and informative. I have been especially interested in yoga since I have lupus myself. If you do not mind will you send me the name of a good beginner dvd for yoga. I would love to keep in touch with you.
Thanks for your time.
Charlotte

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