Tag Archives: Multiple Sclerosis

Shitali Pranayama

Shitali means cooling.  I thought it fitting to share this breath practice as the humidity of summer arrives.  This pranayama practice is great for my MS students to help deal with the heat and, great for my prenatal students to lessen their nausea.  My daughter and I routinely practice Shitali Pranayama when we are feeling nauseous from hormonal changes.

Benefits: 

*Activates the liver and spleen

*Improves digestion

*Relieves thirst

*Calm  feelings of anger

*Alleviates nausea

*Can help lower fever

Shitali

 

How to:

Find a comfortable seat with the natural curves in the spine.  Stick your tongue out and curl it, if you cannot curl your tongue as this is a genetic trait, make an O shape with your lips.  Inhale through the mouth, feeling the cool air flow over the tongue then, close your mouth and exhale through your nose.  I’ve read that you should do 5 rounds of this breath in order for it to be effective and, I recently read to do no more than 10 rounds in one sitting.   However, you can practice Shitali Pranayama several times a day.

Note:  Please discontinue practice if it does not feel right for you.  Also, if you start to get a sore throat, gargle with warm salt water.

“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” Thich Nhat Hanh

28 Day Meditation/Mindfulness Journey

“When we take time to quiet ourselves, we can all sense that our lives could be lived with greater compassion and greater wakefulness.”  Jack Kornfield

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Meditation and mindfulness is spoken of everywhere now.  There are multiple studies being conducted on its effects in the corporate world, education, the health care system and the military.  Technology is and can be a wonderful tool to communicate world wide and get things done faster.  However, it can also lead to higher stress, heavier workloads and disconnection.  Meditation and mindfulness offers a tool for living in the present moment. In turn, lowering stress levels and increasing awareness and compassion for self and others.

I invite you to join me and my yoga students on this 28 day journey.  I will post a meditation/mindfulness practice each week.  We will start with 10 minutes of meditation.  I invite you to journal the effects and experiences of your meditation practice.  You are welcome to post comments in order to create a community of support.
How?  It is ideal to pick a particular time of day but if that does not work for you, choose a time that will.  Turn off phones and set a timer for 10 minutes.   You can sit or lay down if necessary.  Sit on a comfortable seat, either in a chair or on the floor.  I encourage you to sit with support under your buttocks to elevate the hips higher than the knees. This posture invites the spine to rest in its natural curves and allows the body to be open for optimal breath space. Once you are comfortable, close your eyes or let the gaze release down, keeping your head in a neutral position with your ears balanced above your shoulders.  Notice sounds, then bring your awareness to sensations of your body and the parts of the body that are in contact with your chair or the floor.  Then bring your awareness to your breath, not changing the breath.
First Week Theme:  “Simply” watch the breath.  I say simply as it is not really simple.  You will find that your mind wanders and many thoughts often arise.  That is okay and normal.  Let your thoughts become like clouds passing by in the bright blue vastness of the mind, not becoming attached or getting carried away by them.  Keep coming back to the breath and the sensations of the breath at the tip of the nose and inside the body.  You could notice the temperature, the texture or maybe the length of the breath. That’s it!

I invite you to notice how this practice begins to affect the rest of your day and your interactions with others.  I noticed how my meditation practice allowed me to respond instead of react to my son’s behavior which helped him to calm down more quickly.  I also noticed a decrease in my anxiety levels as well.

Multiple Sclerosis Survey

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Dear Reader,

I have been teaching yoga to persons with Multiple Sclerosis for 10 years and I have had many of the same amazingly dedicated students for these 10 years.   They come to class even though they may be in pain, having difficulty walking, suffering fatigue, anxiety and/or depression and, they leave the class feeling great with comments like, “I feel much better now”, or “this is the closest to pain free I have been in many years”.  It’s these smiling faces and these powerful words that keep me believing in the power of yoga and all it has to offer to persons with disabilities. This is the reason I partnered with Chuck Burmeister, a fellow yoga teacher, who also has MS, to create a DVD, “Yoga for Multiple Sclerosis”.  Through this DVD, we can offer yoga to those who live in other areas and may not have access to MS yoga classes or who may be afraid to try yoga or have difficulty getting out of the house.  You can purchase our DVD through my  blog site as well as through Amazon.   You can connect with us on our Facebook Page, Real Yoga, LLC.

We currently have a marketing team from Heidelberg University conducting a survey for persons with MS and or their care-givers.  Please take a few minutes to complete this survey so we can continue to help those with MS.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/HUWellness

Real Yoga for MS

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When I first started teaching yoga I really wanted to help people physically, mentally and spiritually.  This has forever remained my daily intention.  I feel so privileged to have been teaching yoga for 10 years to people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).  They are like family to me.  The students are so dedicated; most have been coming for years.  I have witnessed the ways in which yoga impacts the MS clients.  They often arrive at class with fatigue, pain and some depression.  At the conclusion of our Yoga class they express how much better they feel and leave with a smile.

After a couple years of discussion and utilizing our combined knowledge, Chuck Burmeister, a fellow yoga teacher, and I have launched a new business and DVD.We paired up to create the “Real Yoga for MS” DVD with the purpose of providing my current MS students a tool for home practice as well as helping others with MS who have limited or no access to a yoga class.  Chuck has reaped many benefits from a daily yoga practice for his MS.  “Real Yoga for MS” is also suitable for those recovering from illness, injury or those looking for a gentler practice.  The practices on the DVD consist of some of the poses (asanas) that have benefited my students the most.  We’ve included a floor practice, some of which may be done in bed, a chair session, a care-giver section, as well as a more active practice.  There are many added bonuses, resulting in an informative Yoga DVD.   I see the “Real Yoga for MS” DVD far reaching as an extension of my intent of helping people.

Community

I was very inspired by a training I went to this weekend talking about the importance of building a sense of community in our classes as yoga teachers.  During my MS Yoga class I was filled with joy because, this class has a very strong sense of community.  These folks, get to class even though they are exhausted, some not able to walk, arriving in wheelchairs and others have to rely on family or public transportation to get to class.  They come early and chat with one another, never really complaining, but sharing how things are going.  At this particular class I had a dear friend and fellow yoga teacher assisting me who loves to sing and got the group singing and laughing.  We did our practice with our usual moments of pause and laughter.  Many of the students are dealing with exacerbations due to the change in weather and temperatures, therefore, I planned to do a restorative pose before our Savasana.   My 2 wonderful dedicated assistants and I went around and offered reiki which is a hands on energy healing practice.  As we were doing this I got this wave of joy because this was such a beautiful thing, unconditional loving human touch, something that often is missing in our  hectic lives.  When the class came to a close there was more laughter and the students glowed and were able to stand a little taller than when they arrived.  This class is evidence that yoga is not just asanas, but it is a practice for the mind, body and soul.

“Come out of the circle of time and into the circle of love.”  Rumi

Hearts of Love made by Gail Sky.  Students rest these in their palms to add a layre of groundedness and comfort.

These are Hearts of Love made by my dear friend Gail Spirit Sky. Students rest them in their palms to add a sense of weight for deeper relaxation as well as comfort.