For years it has been a dream of mine to be a yoga instructor. I found reason after reason why this was not pragmatic. When I got diagnosed with MS, it provided the perfect opportunity to do more fear procrastination, perhaps indefinitely.
I was still motivated to practice yoga and I searched out yoga specific to Multiple Sclerosis. I came across “Yoga and Multiple Sclerosis: Health and Healing” by Eric Small and Loren Fishman M.D. Eric is a certified yoga instructor in the Iyengar tradition and has Multiple Sclerosis. He became my inspiration.
Iyengar yoga did not speak to me. So I began to search out other forms and fell in love with Kundalini Yoga. It is almost as if it is made for MS. Stationary poses work on strengthening the nervous system. Active poses work on keeping the body limber, strengthening the muscles, improving circulation, and getting the lymphatic system activated. Deep relaxation calms the body down. Meditation provides a lifelong tool to bring stress levels down and center oneself. The chanting brings happiness and unity and can be carried with you throughout the day. And it is a yoga done primarily with the eyes closed, taking the element of competition away. You are given the permission to just be and to do the poses in whatever body you came with that day. The focus is not on perfection, but becoming your best self.
In France, Kundalini workshops for Multiple Sclerosis were held throughout the country. This link offers suggestions of what exercise routines (called Kriyas), meditations and chants to try. I have begun to try these and can attest to their power to heal so much of what we uniquely deal with in MS. http://www.3ho.org/articles/kundalini-yoga-people-multiple-sclerosis. Of course, and unfortunately, Kundalini does not contain the cure for Multiple Sclerosis. But for me, it has come close to being one. To heal doesn’t always mean taking away the symptoms. It can also mean being at peace with where we are, the bodies we have been given, the hand we have been dealt in life.
Sometimes I say that Multiple Sclerosis has been a blessing in disguise for me. By some that is seen as making the best of a bad situation and for others I know that it comes across as the naïve proclamation of someone who has not seen the worst of what this disease has to offer. But for me, it has been the push to take a good long look at myself. I was running myself into the ground, demanding more and more of my body, angry all of the time, stressed out and inconvenienced at the most minor things. Now I am a Yogi.
And a Yoga teacher. I made it through the ten month training. It was not easy having MS, but I felt that I got even more out of the journey. And now I can share my joy with others- those with chronic illness and pain who may feel nothing will ever work to make their situation better and the rest of the human race who are convinced of the same.
In reclaiming our power to heal ourselves and determine our own destinies, we can become more than our disease. We get in touch with the roots of our illness and shape the future of its course. And that is a cure if I have ever heard of one.
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