A diagnosis of any chronic condition is devastating and very stressful. With a diagnosis of MS, we learn that the immune system is in a state of disharmony with the body and this shows up in a variety of challenging symptoms. Episodes and flare-ups can seriously interfere with our quality of life and of our loved ones too.
Why Yoga Is Great For You
Yoga is an excellent way to manage stress, which helps manage and diminish MS symptoms, and reduces the frequency of flare ups and episodes. With very gentle movements, we are able to move tension out of the body, bringing fresh blood and lymph to all our tissues, and infusing our cells with fresh prana (life force).
We use movement, poses, and breath to cool things down and calm the mind as we bring new awareness and sensitivity to parts of the body that were feeling dull, heavy, and uncomfortable.
Best of all, yoga does not have any side effects that could further reduce quality of life. In fact, our practice allows us to feel more refreshed, integrated, empowered, whole, and free!
Keep It Simple – asana
We keep it simple with the following poses because there can be a tendency to try too hard, get overwhelmed and then exhausted. In this kind of yoga we go EASILY & SLOWLY so that our practice feels GREAT, not painful and tiring. We don’t do everything; we just do a bit and then we rest for a bit. We do a little bit every day instead of a lot once a week.
Lying poses or seated poses either on the floor or a chair help to ground us. We use breath to connect our awareness to the energy of gravity and the energy of the earth. Constructive Rest Rocking is wonderful to release tension out of whole backline of the body and it calms the belly and the breath.
Standing poses are very empowering but, as a general rule, whatever you think you can do, DO HALF OF THAT! Use the wall, kitchen counter, washer or dryer, the sofa, or anything else that can help keep you safe and supported. There can be the tendency to try hard but in this practice we TRY SOFT and it really works wonders!
Incorporate lots of restorative poses to help you feel rested and refreshed. Schedule 30 minutes every day to get comfortable with all your bolsters, blankets, and towels, and set yourself up on the floor, couch, or bed. Elevate your legs on a chair or bolster. Play some slow and peaceful music very softly in the background. Feel yourself grounding through your connections to the floor or your supports. Feel the earth’s energy coming up into you and sense the calmness settling into every cell of your body. Work with the Interrupted Out Breath (Viloma 2) for a few rounds to cool things down in the body and mind, and then surrender the breath completely to its natural form.
Engage in Laughter Yoga because when you are dealing with life-limiting illness you need as many laughs as you can get! There is an incredible healing reaction that happens in the body when we tickle the funny bone. Look for a local Laughter Yoga class or find one online! Laughter is definitely the best medicine of all.
Meditation Heals Too
The Buddha tells us, “The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, or not to anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”
There are so many benefits to quieting the mind, from managing pain to reducing tremors and, most of all, for emotional healing. When we are dealing with a chronic illness, stress can create a cascade of negative thoughts and emotions about the past and worry about the future.
In our meditations, we don’t fight the thoughts that might be coming up. We see them and look at them with curiosity and detachment. We accept that these emotions are coming up and we are okay with that. We allow ourselves to feel the feelings fully.
Then, we notice that suddenly some new thoughts are coming through… and we feel differently. This happens over and over, and we just keep noticing the parade of thoughts and feelings. We don’t become attached to any of them and add to the storylines. We just watch.
Over time, we see how we some of these thoughts are just nonsense and we notice our reactions to these untrue thoughts. This kind of insight is gold in our practice!
We also have compassion for ourselves having these kinds of thoughts when they keep coming up over and over again. That’s why we call it “practicing” meditation! We just keep allowing those old thoughts to be ventilated out and maybe we begin to cultivate thoughts of the opposite kind.
Soon, we find that we’re far less reactive in stressful encounters. We’ve become more ease-full in our dealings with difficult situations, and things start to roll off our backs instead of getting our backs up. Meditation is invaluable for those dealing with MS and for their caregivers.
Keep hydrated by drinking at least 2 litres of water every day. Expand the horizons of your taste buds and experiment with different varieties of green teas as well as turmeric teas.
Eating simple, unprocessed foods that are easy on the digestive system and have anti-inflammatory properties is important. Do your own research to come up with new recipes, or work with a Naturopath, Nutritionist, Ayurvedic practitioner, TCM doctor or a Wellness Coach. They will help identify foods that can help reduce inflammation and make it easy to implement into your daily diet.
Eat slowly and mindfully, taking a lot of time to chew and get the most flavour out of the food. Chewing well also helps break down the food so nutrients are absorbed more easily.
Caregivers Need Self Care
Those who are caring for loved ones with chronic conditions are at very high risk of burnout, and must be vigilant about their own selfcare. Practicing asana (yoga poses), pranayama (breathing practices) and meditation are incredibly helpful for anyone dealing with the challenges of any stressful situation, and giving care can be one of the most stressful endeavors of all! Insist on scheduling time for yourself and escape on to your mat and recharge. You deserve it!
– Deborah Devine
Visit our Healing Yoga with Deborah Devine show page for much more, including more webisodes to help with a myriad of physical challenges.
*Healing Yoga provides insight meant to help you in improving your health and overall wellbeing. However, the information presented above is offered for informational and educational purposes and is not intended as a replacement for the judgment of a medical professional, or consultation with qualified practitioners.
Healing Yoga, Deborah Devine, and the Brand New ONE make no warranty or representation regarding the services or products provided through or in connection with the website. Use your own discretion when performing any postures.
The reader and viewer assumes all risks when using the information provided herein. Information provided by this site is not intended to treat or cure any disease or to offer any specific diagnosis to any individual as we do not give medical advice, nor do we provide medical or diagnostic services.
We strongly recommend seeking professional medical advice before performing any techniques, poses, postures or routines presented on this site.