In this article from the September 2013 edition of MiScellany Magazine Andy Heyes talks about how Yoga has helped him with his MS.
In my experience in overcoming some of the more challenging symptoms associated with MS, I can wholeheartedly say that the practice of Yoga offers me the opportunity to overcome, not only the challenges of MS, but also of life.
The practice helps me to face times of fear and uncertainty with poise and presence of mind. Our body has a unique ability to restore itself by working the holy trinity of the Body , mind and spirit. I have been practising yoga for 13 years and teaching it for five. I had been diagnosed with MS in 1998 and had had numbness , Optic Neuritis, reduced mobility and fatigue. I completed my application form for attending Teacher Training Yoga and completed it with the words “MS won’t prevent me, I will fight this condition”.
My Integral Yoga Trainer said “Surrender, acccept the condition and work with your body, not fight. This brings a flight or fright response, you must proceed with courage, caution and patience”. Though yoga is not a cure for MS, a daily practice, along with the guidance of my teachers, has helped me get my symptoms into remission and rebuild strength and to enjoy as normal a life as possible. It is so important for a coping strategy to maintain flexibility, build strength and calm the drunken monkey, also known as the mind.
The foundation of my practice is trying to be conscious about my houghts and actions, using the yoga ethics (yamas and niyamas) for self-reflection. Doing my best with things like non-harming and non-grasping, knowing that it is a practice, not a “perfect”. Using postures and breathwork primarily to support meditation and health, and practicing meditation to cultivate qualities like compassion and courage.
So if you were a fly on the wall of my practice, you’d see as much sitting as sun salutations or headstands. Additionally, I sought out nutritional counseling and changed my dietary discipline. I embraced a vegetarian diet and eliminated alcohol, I limit my intake of wheat, sugar and dairy products. The combination of yoga, diet, nutritional supplementation has produced very positive results.