BEGINNING JANUARY 2020...
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS...
What is your relationship with multiple sclerosis (MS)?
In the spring of 2010, I was immersed in teaching a teacher training program. On one particular morning, I was instructing students in a complicated arm balance, and that same evening, I was in the Emergency Room at Good Samaritan hospital undergoing tests that might explain why I was experiencing ongoing numbness on my left side and an overall sense that something wasn’t right. The diagnosis was devastating, and I resisted returning to my mat, as I felt that an autoimmune condition meant that my body had betrayed me. I gravitated towards my love of yoga philosophy, searching for those entry points to awareness and presence to keep me buoyant during such a heavy-hearted time. Over time, I stepped back onto my mat with a renewed sense of appreciation for movement, along with the courage and vulnerability required to navigate the unpredictability of an illness like MS.
Then offer some insight as far as why people with MS might benefit from yoga?
In my personal experience and that of students with MS, I have encountered physical, mental and emotional benefits from a gentle and adaptable yoga practice. I’ve found that yoga postures, whether practiced standing (with support as needed), seated, or reclining on the mat, can support ongoing stability and mobility within the body. Furthermore, breathing techniques often soothe the sympathetic aspect of our central nervous system, which is generally over-active in people with MS. When the parasympathetic nervous system is emphasized, rest and healing can emerge naturally.
What should people expect from the class experience?
My gentle yoga and MS-specific classes begin with a short check-in with those attending and some time to get settled. We then focus on slow, joint-focused movements that align with intentional breathing. Once everyone is warmed up, we move into the main portion of the practice, which is often mapped onto what is happening seasonally—for example, cooling postures in summer, and warming practices in winter. I close practice with one or two restorative shapes, rest, and simple, compassionate meditation.
Is this class accessible and how?
My gentle yoga and MS classes can be practiced at the wall, in a chair, or on the mat. I communicate with students when they arrive to see how we can best set them up for the class. There is plenty of time for transitions, as we move slowly and intentionally. I also believe that accessibility means providing a welcoming space where students feel safe and heard, each and every time they show up to practice.
What can one expect about the building, accessibility, etc.?
I teach gentle yoga at Wild Hearts Wellness on Mondays and Wednesdays. There is parking located behind the building and along neighboring streets. There is one flight of stairs to get to the studio, so for anyone in a wheelchair or who has difficulty climbing stairs, I’d recommend my monthly class and support group at Providence Portland. This will be held on the third Tuesday of the month, beginning in January. The room is accessible to all, and parking is located right next to the studio space. Please contact me with any further questions regarding coming to class. As someone with MS, I know the challenges of driving at night and the need for things to be easeful. In the future, I intend to offer MS yoga classes online so one can practice from the comfort of their own home.