077: Interstitial Cystitis (Painful Bladder Syndrome) with Helena Spears


Shannon met Helena Spears through a discussion in The Connected Yoga Teacher Facebook group about interstitial cystitis.


Upon graduating from her 200-hour yoga teacher training, Helena turned her focus towards teaching chronic pain informed yoga as well as yoga for pelvic health. Shannon asked Helena on as a guest to share her first-hand experience with interstitial cystitis and persistent pain and the many benefits of practicing yoga in regard to pain management.


As a teen, Helena was diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis (IC) and in her 20s, through a cliff jumping incident, she developed chronic back pain. The back pain evolved into Fibromyalgia and Ankylosing Spondylitis (an inflammatory arthritis that attacks the spine).


Helena describes how she turned to yoga for chronic pain management but soon found the benefits were limited within the confines of a traditional yoga practice. She shares this experience and her perseverance in pursuing her own yoga path on her website:


“It was in my early 30s that I discovered how powerful yoga can be in managing pain; the emotional, spiritual and physical. I decided to pursue my yoga teacher training out of frustration and curiosity. I was frustrated that “regular” yoga practice seemed to flare my Fibromyalgia, yet I knew that yoga could be the key to helping heal my overactive nervous system and dialing down my pain. Since completing my yoga teacher training, my practice has deepened in a way I never thought possible. The emotional healing and guidance I have received from studying sutras and yogic philosophy inform my life and practice every day. Through meditation, I have learned to tap into the calm part of my soul, pranayama allows me to quickly tap into that inner calm”


Helena candidly shares her experience with Interstitial Cystitis, the anger she encountered while coping with her persistent pain, the importance she places on the mind/body connection, and the sutras that are guiding her along her journey.

[7:30] Helena’s yoga journey


[10:40] Helena describes her chronic pain


[12:30] The definition of Interstitial Cystitis (from the IC Network website)


[13:25] 5 different types of IC (listed in The Connected Yoga Teacher Interstitial Cystitis (Painful Bladder Syndrome) PDF)


[16:35] No one-size-fits-all treatment for IC


[17:30] Helena’s take on the term “Painful Bladder Syndrome” as an alternative to Interstitial Cystitis


[18:55] Helena’s IC symptoms


[19:45] Helena’s experience with the mind/body connection in relation to persistent pain


[21:35] The benefit of yoga in nurturing Helena’s mind/body relationship and the activities Helena has given up due to pain and stress


[25:35] Helena’s yoga practice


[27:05] The benefits Helena has found using Muse headbands


[32:50] Helena’s interest in pursuing Yoga for Pelvic Health and taking Pain Care Yoga- Teacher Training and Learning with Tianne


[34:40] How Helena wants to empower her yoga students and how she’s always learning as a teacher


[36:30] How Helena feels the spiritual aspect of yoga, such as the Yoga Sutra has helped her cope with chronic pain- Ahimsa (compassion for self) and Aparigraha (non-attachment) and Brahmacharya (dedication to practice) are guiding principles in her life


[39:55] Anger and chronic pain- how Helena identified and worked on her anger and the importance of acceptance


[42:25] What Helena would say to someone suffering from persistent pain


[45:30] Helena’s concern for men who feel like they can’t convey their pain which is toxic for pain management


[46:00] The emotional component of persistent pain and the importance of treating the mind, body and soul


[48:35] How best to reach Helena



To enter to win a Muse Headband leave a comment below these shownotes 🙂


Helena’s Website: Helena Spears Yoga


The Pelvic Health Podcast


PDF: Interstitial Cystitis (Painful Bladder Syndrome)


Website: The IC Network


Definition of Interstitial Cystitis on The IC Network website:


“An unpleasant sensation (pain, pressure, discomfort) perceived to be related to the urinary bladder, associated with lower urinary tract symptoms of more than six weeks duration, in the absence of infection or other identifiable causes.”


Shelly Prosko’s Website: Physio Yoga


Pain Care Yoga- Teacher Training and Learning with Tianne


The 10 Step Approach to Living with Pain Webinar (scroll down the page a bit to see video and links to handouts)


Book: When The Body Says No by Gabor Maté (chapter 1 available for no charge)


The Connected Teacher Facebook Group


Follow The Connected Teacher on Youtube


Book a Consultation Call with Shannon


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