Saurabh Rai, a San Francisco-based research analyst, has always been active and physically fit. So when he began experiencing mild myotonia several years ago, he didn’t take it too seriously. By 2009, the myotonia had gotten worse, despite the fact that he was exercising a lot.
After his symptoms continued to worsen, Saurabh paid a visit to his doctor, who conducted a host of tests. Saurabh was told that he was perfectly healthy and just needed to stretch more after his workouts. However, Saurabh’s symptoms continued and, in fact, became more gripping. He was referred to a neurologist who conducted an EMG test—which reads electrical currents that occur in the muscles—and was diagnosed with DM1.
Even though his muscles hurt and he’s often fatigued, Saurabh remains active. But now, instead of working out and lifting weights at the gym, he practices yoga.
“Yoga provides temporary relief from the myotonia because I have to stretch a lot,” Saurabh says. “DM tightens the muscles and yoga loosens them up. The different yoga poses help different parts of the body and also alleviate some other issues that arise, such as the GI problems.”
The most beneficial thing for Saurabh, however, is that yoga reduces stress. “I could go to the gym and lift weights, but my head would be filled with things that cause me stress. With yoga, I have to be very focused on what I’m doing. It cuts me off from everything else. It’s a meditative experience.”
Saurabh is determined not to let DM interfere with his life. “When I received the diagnosis, I thought it was the end of the world,” he said. “I was depressed and felt hopeless. But I’d heard about MDF and joined their online forum. I gradually realized that this diagnosis is not the end of the world and that I needed to make some life adjustments and stay positive,” he adds.
Being involved with the MDF online forum has continued to be a support for Saurabh. While he found it to be an invaluable resource at the the time of his diagnosis, he now stays connected to the larger MDF community, encouraging others to not give up, try yoga and stay positive by making small adjustments to their lives.
“There are a lot of ways you can improve your life,” Saurabh says. “Everyone can do something to be healthier, whether it’s changing their diet, practicing yoga and meditation, or simply reducing their stress. I know it works for me.”