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.

Time … it’s Priceless

As 2015 hovers on the horizon, I find myself looking back over 2014 and I feel blessed and amazed by the year that has almost come to an end. Time is the one thing that you can never make more of. I feel that it is important to make the most of each moment that you have as you will never get that moment back again.

Have you ever really taken the time to think about time? Do you live each and every moment with the knowledge that you will never get that moment back? What if you did? Would you change the way that you do things during the day? Would you take more time to play on your cell phone, or would you spend more time with those you love or doing things that are meaningful in your life? We take time for granted, we think that there will always be time to do that later, someday, maybe. Do you want to take that chance?

I have spent more time in my adult life than I would have wished dealing with my Multiple Sclerosis. I am no longer giving any of my precious time to this, I have more important things to give my time too. I enjoy life, I have found that when I do something with my time that has meaning I feel nurtured and my time is well spent.

095I have been reading Viktor Frankl’s book “Man’s Search For Meaning” and it makes me realize just how important it is to have meaning in your life, to have a reason to move forward and get up each day. Time is very, very dear to those who have no idea how much of it they have, but then, who really knows how much time any of us have?

Mr. Frankl speaks of “existential vacuum” in his book. He calls it the phenomenon of the twentieth century, and now the twenty-first century. Man used to have a reason to get up every day, he had to find wood, get food, go to work, something always gave him a reason to keep moving forward. Man is losing the ability to follow his instincts and propel himself forward. When this happens he moves into one of two categories 1. he wishes for others to tell him what to do or 2. he just does what other people want him to do. At the time of the publication of his book, the first being in 1959, a statistical survey of his European students showed that 25 percent of them showed a more-or-less marked degree of existential vacuum. This same survey done in America at in that same time frame showed a 60 percent ratio! Most of the time this vacuum shows itself in a state of boredom. (Man’s Search For Meaning, Page 106).

Time and meaning. We all have the same hours in a day, we each receive 24 of them no more and no less. For those that have no meaning, no reason to get up and do something, time drags on and boredom sets in. So does apathy, depression, and addictions. I realize that it’s not that simple all the time, but sometimes it really is.

Looking back over the past year I realize that I have great meaning in my life, I have a reason to get up each morning and move forward. I love to learn and I’ve learned so much over the past year. I will continue to learn in the coming year. What I learn, I pass on to my clients. I make a difference and that means something to me. I feel that most of my time is well spent and I feel very good about that. I can always make more money, eat a good meal, or buy new clothes, those are things that can be replaced and regained. Time is my most precious commodity.

How do you spend your time? Does it give you meaning? Does it fill your soul? Does it nurture you? This coming New Year, reflect back over the past twelve months. How did you spend your time? Did you spend it wisely or did you waste it away? Make the effort to put a bit more meaning into the time that you spend next year. Look at it as an experiment to set down your cell phone, walk away from your computer and join the world of meaning. Spend time doing something that nurtures you, not that just kills time. May you all have a beautiful new year …

Looking Ahead to the New Year …

As I sit here, the new year just around the corner, I find myself contemplating many different things. This has been a year of learning and absorbing many different bits and pieces of information. I am always amazed as to how it all dove tails together. Each thing I learn moves right into the next thing that I learn. It doesn’t take very long and I get a complete picture of the information that I wish to pass on.

I am still learning and I will continue to pass along the information I learn to you. I have always stated that real healing comes from a place in the heart. Finding that place in the heart comes from having your life balanced in all areas, not physical or mental or spiritual, but ALL of those areas. The human body is an amazing thing when it receives the nourishment, and I don’t mean just food, it needs to thrive. I firmly believe that you have to take care of the complete person, not just bits and pieces of it, to help the body to heal itself.

DSCN4151I am currently reading the book “Mind Over Medicine, Scientific Proof that you can heal Yourself”, by Lissa Rankin, M.D. I recommend everyone purchasing a copy of this book and then reading it without any preconceived notions. I always tell my students and my clients to take everything that you learn, even from me, and apply your own critical thinking to it. Don’t ever just take my word for it as my truth may not be your truth. Until you can honestly say that a “theory” has moved into your personal belief system, it will always be a philosophy to you. It will not be your truth.

I look forward to next year and my time with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition(R). They embrace the concept of Primary Food and Secondary Food. Would it surprise you to know that the actual food you put in your mouth is considered Secondary Food? The main “food” that feeds your homeostasis is everything else in your life, your career, your relationships, your physical activity, and your spirituality. Eating the healthiest diet in the world will not help you to live a healthy life when these areas are lacking in your personal life.

My wish for myself in the coming year is to fully integrate all that I’ve learned into my own personal life. To accelerate my healthy spiral upward. To continue too amaze my Neurologist with the disappearance of the lesions in my brain on my journey through Multiple Sclerosis. My wish for you is to begin your own journey to good health. This coming year I will be passing my knowledge on to you, offering some insights that you can apply to your own life. The only one that can give you the gift of health, is you. I believe that you are more than worthy of that gift and I am looking forward to next year and watching you step up and claim your gift for yourself. Like the butterfly, it’s time we ALL learned how to stretch our wings and soar!

You Have To Walk Your Talk

I have always believed that you need to live your truth, that you set the example and others learn by observation. I have tried to live my life in accordance with the classes that I teach. I always admired that about my Great-Grandmother. She lived her religion, she never preached it. Everyone wanted to have the same peaceful quality that she portrayed.

So, with that in mind, I am starting on my new eating lifestyle. I have been researching diet and autoimmune diseases for some time now. Once I was able to completely end my relationship with pharmaceutical drugs in the treatment of my Multiple Sclerosis, I made the firm decision to NEVER go back there again! It is very freeing to be able to go somewhere without worrying about keeping medication refrigerated and disposing of syringes. This is a freedom that I will not give up.

As I stated in my first paragraph, I believe that you need to live your truth and the things that you teach. I am now sharing my knowledge of autoimmune diseases and diet. Hmmm, maybe that means that I need to start following said lifestyle myself!

I began small, eating one apple a day (I really didn’t eat ANY fruit during the day) and that has become a habit. Now it’s time to play more full out! Last night I made my first gluten-free, sugar free, paleo adjusted meal. It was interesting and I learned a few things in the process! First, I do enjoy cooking and trying out new things. Second, when purchasing two different types of squash that are going to be cooked together on the same baking sheet, make sure that they are at least close to the same size! My spaghetti squash was about 2 1/2 times bigger than my delicata squash. They did not cook at the same pace! My delicata squash was soft and smooth, but my spaghetti squash was still a bit crunchy in places. It still tasted good though! I made Bacon Chicken Alfredo. I had crunchy noodles from the spaghetti squash and the delicata squash mixed with coconut milk made up the sauce. It had awesome flavor!

The Earth Diet BookTomorrow I begin The Earth Diet (TM) 3 day cleanse. I will continue taking my Life Long Vitality Pack and DDR Prime supplements from doTERRA, as they are a very important part of my healing process, but I am excited to begin this cleanse. I’ve never cleansed using only food before . I have all of my kale, spinach, parsley, cilantro, lemons, limes, beets, apples, oranges, grapefruit, cauliflower, and broccoli! I am ready to go! We will see how ready I am by tomorrow night! I know that it means no coffee for the next three days, but I am sure I will survive! I have been drinking less and less every day. As my body gets healthier, it doesn’t seem to desire coffee as much. I will keep you posted on how the cleanse goes! If I am going to be coaching people on living a healthier life, including their diet, then it’s time for me to live that same life. I will be able to have empathy for them, as in all things I teach and coach, I’ve been through it myself!

I think that life gives us the experiences that we need to help others. We pull from our own knowledge and our own truths and that is what makes those of us that coach others very good at what we do.

What do ALL Autoimmune Diseases Have In Common?

I have been learning a lot about autoimmune diagnosis, not just Multiple Sclerosis, but all of them combined. I was surprised by how many different diagnosis are considered to be autoimmune! It is mind boggling to say the least. One thing that has stood out more than anything else is that science has found out one common theme among all of these different diagnosis. It doesn’t matter what the diagnosis is, if it is autoimmune in nature there is a leaky gut prior to the diagnosis. This holds true even for celiac disease and Crohn’s disease the leaky gut came first.

Science has narrowed it down to three reasons for autoimmune diseases:

  1. Genetic susceptibility
  2. Environmental trigger, infection, or bad luck
  3. Diet and lifestyle

“In addition to genetic predisposition and exposure to triggering nonself-antigens, the loss of the protective function of mucosal barriers that interact with the environment (mainly the gastrointestinal and lung mucosa) is necessary for autoimmunity to develop.” Alessio Fasano, Leaky Gut and Autoimmune Diseases, Clinical Review of Allergy Immunology 42 (February 2012): 71-78.

Our digestive system is actually considered to be OUTSIDE the body. It is a closed system from the mouth to the rectum with very complex mechanisms in place to allow the absorption of nutrients inside the body. There are a large amount of things that we put into this closed system that have no business being inside our bodies – EVER! Once we open leaks in our digestive system we have an open door policy for the unfriendly things from the gut to run wild in our circulatory system and our lymphatic system.

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“There are actually 140 autoimmune diseases that we’ve identified, and the only scientifically agreed upon cause for autoimmune is gluten sensitivity. Now, there are other triggers for autoimmune disease. An infection can trigger an autoimmune disease. A vitamin deficiency can trigger an autoimmune disease, particularly vitamin D. But gluten tends to be kind of that central core hub that’s always present.” Dr. Peter Osborne, Gluten-Sensitivity Expert.

The Serenity Prayer says it best:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.”

We may not be able to change our genetic makeup and we may not be able to see the trigger for the autoimmune disease coming, but we CAN change our diet. We have total control over that.

The western diet isn’t the cause of autoimmune disease, but it is a factor in ALL autoimmune diseases and it is the one area that we do have control over. It’s time to make some adjustments in how we eat. Become informed. There are places in Africa and Asia that have yet to adopt our way of life and interestingly enough, autoimmune diseases are almost non-existent in these areas. If it doesn’t make you stop and think, then maybe it’s time to do just that.

It’s Time To Push Back

I had an interesting conversation with a young lady the other day. She, like me, has Multiple Sclerosis. She is currently going off of all medications (working closely with her Neurologist and Gynecologist) as she and her husband wish to start a family. I admire her greatly. Our conversation came around to the point when things began to turn around for her MS. She stated, very simply, she began to push her body beyond what she thought it could do. She is now hiking, something that she thought was not in the scheme of things for her.

This rang a huge bell for me. I started thinking back to when I began my journey back to health and realized, like her, it was when I began pushing my body beyond what I thought it could do. Having part of my lower thigh bone just “fall out” and leave bone chips floating around in my knee was a turning point for me. I still have the small bone fragments that were removed during surgery. I was told at the time by the Orthopedic Surgeon that this was going to be a “normal” thing for me as my bones had taken a huge hit from all of the steroids used in treatment of my MS. I was told that I could expect the bones in any of my joints to crumble under the stress. The only thing that might help would be to start lifting weights.

That was a turning point, I went to the gym, I started lifting weights, I began to push back with all my might. What started as lifting weights, progressed into walking, then running. When I finally injured my knee while running, I moved on to biking. I completed the STP this year. My balance is amazing as I also teach, not just take, yoga. I pushed back against MS, and I have pushed back hard. I like where I am today, I am free of all prescription medications and I love that! I take my doTERRA Life Long Vitality Pack and DDR Prime, and my Vitamin D. I feel good … no I feel accomplished and awesome!

While talking with this young lady she told me of another young person with MS. He has begun a non-profit Faith based MS organization called Endless Pursuit. He LEADS a group hike twice a month and his site is filled with information and inspirational blogs. I highly recommend visiting it and supporting it.

I am inspired by this younger generation that refuses to accept the parameters that have been laid out for them due to a diagnosis they have received. Like me, they didn’t accept the fact that they would slowly slide down hill, they decided to push back and take their own lives into their hands. They are empowered and strong. I am blessed to have come in contact with them.

Remember, a diagnosis is only a way to explain the symptoms that you are experiencing. It isn’t who or what you are. You are still you and always will be. Multiple Sclerosis has its ups and downs, I found that in my case, facing the news that I my bones were going to slowly crumble away was the turning point. We all have that place that we hit when we say “no more”. It takes an inner strength and a belief that there IS something greater than you that is helping aid you in your climb back out of the ravine, but if you look deep enough inside of yourself, you can find it.

I can help you on your climb, but the actual climbing has to be done by you. I tell people all the time that they are much stronger than they think they are. There are times they are in so much pain they need medication to help them through it. This takes nothing away from them at all. It’s hard to move forward until you can get out of that pain cycle. First things first, relieve the worst of the physical pain. Get help with the emotional pain and the stress. I can help you with those elements using Reiki and Heartmath(r) techniques. Then we begin the climb back up the ravine.

My wish for ALL those living with an auto-immune dis-ease is to begin their climb back to health. I do believe that it’s not an impossible task. It takes time and it takes strength from a place deep within you, but it’s there if you wish to look for it. It’s time to push back against the diagnosis that is currently controlling your life. Take charge, it IS your life, not the life of the dis-ease.You are not your diagnosis, you never will be.

From MS to STP …

I have decided to ride in the STP (Seattle to Portland) ride this year. I know for some that really isn’t a big deal, but for me it is. I will give you just a small bit of my background, not much as it is only what is behind me not what is sitting here in the present with me.

In 1991 I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. At the time I also had Optical Neuritis and had no vision in my left eye. My balance was non-existent and I had to hold on to something to walk without falling over. I was numb from the waist down and I wore splints on both of my wrists as I had severe weaknesses there and dropped things rather often. I went on a very aggressive treatment plan to get the disease slowed down, aggressive treatment plans tend to also bring more than a few “side effects”. Now let’s fast forward to the present moment.

I haven’t taken any pharmaceuticals for MS since December 17, 2013. That was when I decided to have a talk with my Neurologist and ask him if I could go on a trial run without any medications. He said yes. I knew that I would do fine without the medication anymore as I had been working very hard at getting myself better. I did more than just get myself better, as of February, 2014 when I had my last MRI, there were no lesions present in my brain, a very big reason to celebrate! In 1991, I could see three of the lesions in my brain with my naked eye, they were that large. There were a total of seven at that time. Now you might begin to see why riding the STP this year is a very big deal to me and to those around me.

I have pushed myself to get into better shape. I have taken a 200 hour yoga teaching class and I love yoga. I know that it has helped me in both my balance and core strength. Yoga makes me a better biker. It’s as simple as that. I no longer take any pharmaceuticals, prescription or over the counter (other than vitamin D) and rely on my doTERRA essential oils to keep me healthy and to act as my medicine cabinet. This from a person that took Ibuprofen four at a time (800 mg) for pain on a daily basis. I am healthier than I have ever been and I must admit that it feels really good!

So much for my back story, now for the ongoing story of “let’s get ready to ride”! My husband, Brad, is an excellent bicycler, he has ridden the STP in two days and he’s ridden it in one day. He is riding it with me this year. He is a hill climbing bike rider and he is now getting me out on the hills as well. Today was a ride that he had mapped out for me as I plan on riding Tuesdays and Thursdays by myself during the week and then on the weekends we will ride together on our “long” rides.

The route he mapped out for me was a beautiful ride, it wasn’t a flat ride, but I made it up every hill. At this point he has told me not to worry so much about mileage, but to go by time because of the terrain that I will be riding. This advice made more sense to me after I finished the ride. 

I did discover today that it takes more than a dog treat to get a beagle to go home! At Brad’s advice I carry dog treats with me to help with the dog at large problem. Coming through one stretch I saw a beagle waiting at the side of the road. This is a road that is not very long and has very little traffic on it, so he wasn’t in much danger of getting hit by a car. He ran out when he saw me, tail wagging, and began running beside the bike. I tried to explain to him that he should go home, he didn’t listen so I threw him a treat. He didn’t even slow down. He was having fun, running with what must have seemed to him his new best friend. He switched sides of the bike and I began to see that this might become a problem as he crossed IN FRONT of the bike and I almost hit him. I threw him another treat and once again, he ran right past it. He was really cute, I must admit, but he really needed to go home! I was coming to the end of this short road and I knew that I would be turning onto a slightly busier road so I tried the treats once more, no response at all. I guess though, in the end, he did have his limits on how far he would follow and play as he turned around just before I made it to my turn and headed home. He should have had a nice trot home, eating his treats as he went.

It was a good ride, I made it up every hill and I know that with each ride, I am getting stronger and more confident. I was bit surprised when I checked the speedometer on my bike and realized that I averaged 11 MPH on the ride, that was including the hills! Of course though, I DID have a top speed of 30 MPH and I know that was on a downhill. I am going to have to watch that I don’t get too confident on those downhills. 

This is something that no one, not even myself, thought that I would be able to do, ride a bike and ride it well. It feels good to beat the odds and turn something around that was at one time treated almost like a death sentence and make it into an inspiring story of hope. If I can do it, others can do it as well. I will gladly continue to tell my story because the more people that I can inspire to work harder at getting better, to find the mindset that will allow them to push and not give up, the happier I am. 

Life is too short to accept the limitations that are placed on us by the diagnosis that we receive. There are so many stories out there of those that have beaten the odds and showed such strength in all that they do. You can do and be anything you want, the catch is, you have to want it bad enough to not give up when it begins to hurt and the going gets hard. It’s not easy, I know. I don’t say any of that lightly, but I do say it with my full heart. I have faith in you and I know that if you have faith in yourself you will have a beautiful life.