Yoga … it’s good for your health!

I received my 200 hour Yoga Instructor Certification in February of 2014. Yes, I do teach yoga, no, I don’t teach to the mainstream fitness community. There is a reason for this!

I teach very small classes, only four people at a time. My students are those that wouldn’t go to a yoga studio for a variety of different reasons. I understand why they don’t. I am no different then they are. As I’ve said before, I have Multiple Sclerosis. Balance has been a very big issue for me as well as problems with my hands. These are two things to have that are very helpful when you are practicing yoga.

My students are aware of my MS, I don’t advertise it, but I don’t hide it either. They know that there are nights that I will struggle just as hard to accomplish the tree as they are. Some nights, I can’t do it. Of course, that is because it’s at night and I’m not at my best in the evenings. I DO know how to instruct my students to do the yoga asana’s correctly so that they don’t injure themselves.

There is a comfortable essence to the classes that I teach. Each person in the class is aware that they don’t have to be a certain level or do things perfect. Sometimes in big classes, a feeling of conspicuousness comes up and that takes away from the experience of yoga. When the student is very comfortable at keeping their own pace, they do much better with the postures.

Yoga is an excellent way to learn how to move inside and leave the outside world behind. When you are worried about how you look, embarrassed because you feel over, did the posture wrong, or whatever enters your mind,  you are no longer inside, you’ve gone back outside. Learning to breath deeply and following the breath with your body helps to create a unification of mind and body. The postures require your complete focus to hold them. Ask any of my students that managed to hold the tree for the duration of the time how exhilarating it is to have done that … and they will tell you that they had their focus completely on the pose, the outside world and what the others were doing had disappeared.

I use essential oils during my classes to help bring a element of peace and healing to the classes as well. I’ve used lemongrass and cypress on my wrists daily for a few years now, between the yoga and the oils, my numbness is much, much better. My wrists are much stronger than they have been in years.

Yoga is a way to move into meditation. Learning to focus your mind and be present is part of yoga, and what is done in meditation as well. When I move into svasana at the end of the practice, I must say I am very good at putting all of the students into a space of healing and total relaxation. Some fall asleep, which is fine with me, but all feel the peacefulness that comes from their yoga practice.

No matter what is going on in your life, what physical level you are at, you can make yoga part of your healing process. Moving the body is a good thing, even if it’s very small movements, and we all start small. Some of us go back and forth between small and huge, it all depends on the flow of our lives.

No, I’m not your typical large studio instructor. I’m me, and I’m no different than you in my abilities. That being said, I can help you to improve your own physical and mental well being in a safe environment. If you are interested in signing up for a yoga class (again there are only four per class) you can do so through the scheduling link on my facebook page. Even if you don’t schedule with me, find a class that is comfortable to you, a place that you feel safe and encouraged, and begin your own yoga practice. You will not regret it!

 

 

Happy 2017

dscn4151It’s been some time since I’ve written and I think that it’s time to get back into the groove of things! Sitting here thinking about the coming year, I realize that the one word that seems to keep coming to mind is “change”. This is the year of change. For some, that’s a scary word, for others it’s exciting. One thing that I’ve learned along the way, without change you are always going to stay exactly where you are, doing what you’re currently doing, the same way you’ve always done it.

“What’s wrong with that”, you might be wondering. Nothing, if you are satisfied with your life as it is. Most of those that I speak with aren’t satisfied with where they are in life. They want to be happier, healthier, wealthier, or you can fill in the blank with whatever word works for you. These same people are afraid of change, so they stay where they are … wishing for things to be different but not wanting to do anything to MAKE them different.

Had I not “changed” what I did physically and what I thought mentally, I would still be just existing in life, not living it. There is a big difference between the two. I have found that living life is much more fun than just existing and dealing with a chronic illness. There is a very large world out there, even if it is just making the world at your home a peaceful place filled with love and happiness, I believe that everyone can achieve that.

The change doesn’t come from outside, it comes from inside of you. No amount of purchasing “things” can bring about the change you desire. There are things that can help you to help yourself, but they are only tools and if you don’t use them, there will be no change.

I believe that the birthright of every person on this earth is to live in peace and happiness. Maybe that’s a bit idealistic … there is so much suffering in the world. But you’ve all heard stories of those in horrendous situations that have still managed to find peace in their lives. They are very inspirational stories to be sure, but we seem to just look at them as something that person did, but that we could never do. Why? Why do we think that? The hardest part of changing your life is letting go of the fear that you just can’t do it!

I believe that you can … I don’t think that it’s easy, but it is worth the effort. I am here to show you that it is. I no longer have MS controlling my life, I control my life and that is empowering. In 2017 why don’t you embrace change? It’s time to move forward, not just tread water. I challenge you to let go of your fears and begin by playing with the idea that change is good … and that you are worth the effort it takes to make changes.

It’s the Little Steps Done Over Time ….

I’ve covered nutrition, circadian rhythms, and stress in the conversation on autoimmune disease. As we now know, healing from an autoimmune disease is a process that includes ALL areas of our life, it’s not a one size fits all and it’s a process.  Through science I have learned the one thing that all autoimmune diseases have in common is a leaky gut. Even those autoimmune diseases that effect the stomach had their beginnings in a leaky gut. In other words, our diet was a major part of a series of events that triggered the beginning of an autoimmune disease. Removing gluten from our diet will go a very long way in helping the lining of our gut to heal.

I have also learned that it is a combination of a genetic propensity for an autoimmune disease, a triggering event, and a leaky gut that lead to a diagnosis that most of us aren’t thrilled with. The good news is that we can make our quality of life much better is we commit to making a few changes. These changes are in all areas of our life and our motivation level to get better will be the measuring stick as to how much better we can get. It’s not easy to change habits of a lifetime, I know this first hand as I struggle with it myself on a daily basis. Cutting gluten from my diet has proven to be a challenge, but I am still moving forward as I know that it will be a major part of keeping my Multiple Sclerosis in total remission. I am no longer on any medication for MS, it’s been since December 17, 2012 that I went off my Copaxone, the last in a long line of medications since 1991. I have no intentions of going back on anything!

MS bike ride 01011A piece of the puzzle that I haven’t covered yet is that of exercise. Yes, we have to move! I understand that this is a challenge for a lot of people with autoimmune disease. It hurts to move, balance is non-existent, and things just don’t work the way that they are supposed to work. It’s hard to push when you hurt, I get that. I have to say though, the biggest changes on my journey with MS were when I began pushing my body to perform beyond what I thought it was capable of doing. I didn’t start running or riding the Seattle to Portland (STP) bike ride at the beginning! It has taken me a very long time to get to the place that I am today. I had to learn to push through when things began to hurt as I realized that it was only in the first mile of running or the first 5 miles of riding my bike that the pain was the greatest. Once I warmed up things went much smoother, I just had to get to that point.

I highly encourage all those that are dealing with an autoimmune disease to read the book The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson. In this book he explains why it’s the little things we do on a consistent basis, that make all the difference over time. There is a story in the book of a man named Al Lewis. He suffered a major stroke and was told that he would probably never walk again and he had lost the ability to speak. He didn’t accept that this was to be his lot in life. He began by moving his fingers, that was the best he could do. He didn’t miss a day and soon it was his hands and then his arms. Today he has no signs of ever having had a stroke, he is riding his bike and uses the eliptical trainer 30 minutes a day. In his words “I had faith throughout the entire rehabilitation process that if I could just improve .003 percent each day compounded over time, I would make a full recovery.” He did it and you can too!

This is another major component to your best quality of life. Little steps done over time create huge results. If you can walk, get up and walk around the living room, or maybe just walk across the room. Small things done over time. Slowly increase as you can, you will surprise yourself when you realize how far you’ve come in your own rehabilitation.

We were all born to live a life of peace and joy, this includes those of us that are currently dealing with an autoimmune disease. It does not have to control our life. There are ups and downs, but everyone has those at times, we learn to deal with them and then get right back on track. It’s easy to get off track and then never start back up again, I am here to encourage you to always begin again, you are worth it and you deserve to live life to it’s fullest.

When You Push Your Body Too Hard, It Pushes Back

I should have remembered this from the past, but I tend to push some things to the back burner of my mind when I don’t want to acknowledge them. I know from experience, if I push my body too hard, it can and will push back. I know that I am so much better with my MS, but I tend to forget that healing takes time. I didn’t get as sick as I was a few years back over night and while I have made such incredibly huge leaps in my health, there are still a few residual things that are lingering. One of those is fatigue.

But I still push myself anyway and sometimes I do prove to be my own worst enemy. It’s been a busy month getting the new offices ready to open on Monday. We do have them ready, Julie and I, and while the bathroom painting isn’t completed, we can open for business and it’s exciting! During this month I have also been working on my Yoga Teaching Certification. When I’m not at the shop cleaning and painting, I’m home studying yoga and completing the course work. Then in my spare time I get my weekly spiritual Class that I teach ready and I’ve started running and riding my bike again. I push myself beyond what I should and yet, I keep telling myself that I can do it all. 

My body stepped in and reminded me that no, I can’t do it all, not yet. Since December I have been looking forward to February 1 and my one day Yoga Intensive that would bring all that I’ve learned together and I would be teaching a 20 minute class. My class was worked out, I had practiced it with Julie and I was ready. Friday night, we had company show up at 8 PM. I knew that I was already tired, no naps for over a week and still pushing hard. I should have gone to bed at 8, but hindsight is always 20/20 and I went to bed after 11 PM. 

The Yoga Intensive was an hour and half drive from my home. I needed to be there at 7:45 AM, so I had to get up at 5 AM. I woke up at 3:30 AM and couldn’t get back to sleep. I got up exhausted, made my lunch, still determined to get through this day that I had waited so long to attend. My husband was worried as it was a long drive and he had other commitments for that day; he asked “is this class worth dying over?” My exhaustion must have shown clearly on my face. I guess that at that time, I thought it was or I was in very strong denial.

I got in my car, set the GPS up with the address and started out. The fog was so thick that I couldn’t see more than a few feet in front of the car. My nose was pouring, a sure sign that I am exhausted and my body is breaking down. I drove to the first stop sign and I could hear as plain as day the question “what are you doing?” I sat at the stop sign for a bit, unable to see anything around me through the fog, and I knew that I couldn’t drive an hour and a half there, much less home again after a 9 1/2 hour class. I turned the car around and drove back home. I felt defeated.

I went back to bed and slept until 10:30 AM, got up for a bit and lay back down on the couch and slept another three hours. I spent the day in reflection (when I was wake) that began with chastising myself for pushing to hard when I knew better, to accepting that what is is and now, I’ll see what my next step will be. 

As I did my yoga this morning I felt a sense of peace. Yoga in my life was a necessity to move me forward upon my path. I will continue to study each Asana, the body, the movements, the breath, as each piece of the yoga practice moves me further along my own journey. It will help me to continue to heal, not only myself, but my Clients as well. 

I plan to spend another quiet day today, resting, learning, contemplating. I take responsibility for pushing to hard, the only one that ever pushes me is me. The Universe is telling me it’s time to slow down and the new offices are opening next week and I will be working with my Clients in a more regular way again. Helping them to heal, helps me to heal. I am looking forward to the next steps in my journey.