Sharing The Journey

It is often said that the practice of yoga is a journey and not simply an exercise or a form of relaxation. One cannot deny that the journey of every yoga student is unique, personal, and somehow indescribable. However, it is through the sharing and receiving of story that we may find parallels to our own journey.

“I come back to the mat because frankly I feel I deserve this practice and I owe it to myself and my body to do the best that I can.” -Michele

Let us meet Michele.

Michele has been attending yoga classes at Body Bliss for close to a year. Often coming directly from her work at a local veterinary clinic, she seldom misses her Wednesday night class. Michele has a love for animals that extends beyond her job and rarely does a class go by where she is not inquiring about someone’s fur baby. She is adventurous and loves to travel. She is also warm, compassionate, and a great listener. And Michele is living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, MS “is an immune mediated disorder in which the immune system incorrectly attacks healthy tissue in the Central Nervous System (CNS)” The symptoms of MS are unique to the individual but are often “invisible” and inconspicuous to others- fatigue, weakness, and cognitive issues to name a few.

In 2003, at the age of 36, Michele was diagnosed with what is called Relapsing and Remitting MS. The mother of two young children, she found herself scared and uncertain of what the future might bring. Vision impairment, poor balance and coordination, extreme fatigue, and vertigo were just a few of the “invisible symptoms” she had to learn to manage daily. With the help of her doctors and the support of her husband and family, she is more mindful of what may cause her symptoms to flare up.

And then there is yoga.

Studies have shown that the practice of yoga may reduce pain and blood pressure as well as improve the effects of fatigue, anxiety, and depression. Students often see improvement in their balance, strength, and flexibility.

Since she began her yoga practice, Michele, whose favorite posture is Child’s Pose, has seen improvement in her balance and strength. Yoga class is her opportunity to be with herself. With yoga, she can challenge herself, but be kind to herself as well.

I come back to the mat because frankly I feel I deserve this practice and I owe it to myself and my body to do the best that I can”.

When asked how she might advise someone with MS who is considering taking a yoga class: “Start with a beginner or an adaptive yoga class. Try it. Stay with it and don’t get discouraged if you can’t do a pose. There are modifications to fit everyone where they are.”

A teacher once said to me that it is the student who teaches the instructor, not the other way around. Michele has taught and continues to teach me in every class she attends. She communicates with me and invites me to learn more about MS. I am so honored to know this brave and lovely lady!

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