What is Yoga for MS?
Yoga is a path of self-enquiry and in Yoga for MS, we use yoga as a therapy for people living with MS. In our classes, we focus on healing and bringing balance to the body and mind through an experiential understanding.
What it is based on?
Yoga for MS at Taming the Walrus is based on the idea that health equals balance and disease equals unbalance. We want to bring back some balance to feel better. This vision is based on Ayurveda, which is one of the oldest medical systems in the world.
Read more about Ayurveda & MS
Ayurveda is very complex and very detailed. But basically, according to this traditional vision of the world, everything in Nature can be described according to its various properties – light, cold, dry, subtle, rapid, slow etc and thus everything can be categorised. So for instance there are three primary life forces (called doshas), namely vata, pitta and kapha. They can vaguely be translated as Air and Ether, Fire and Earth/Water. These three life forces are also present in our body. If these three forces are balanced, there is health. If there is a strong imbalance between these forces, there is disease. But external factors also are characterised by their primary life force, the elements etc. So our body is influenced by its “natural” characteristics but also by lots of factors such as the food we eat, the season, the time of the day etc. But what about MS? What is really interesting for us in Yoga 4 MS is that diseases also can be categorised according to their nature! And MS is vata! As an anecdote, you might have seen some tests online to determine your dosha. I did a lot of these and always concluded that I am Vata, which is air, movement, light, dry etc. When I went to do my advanced teacher training in India, we learned to check the pulse and my Ayurveda teacher checked mine and told me I am not Vata, I am Pitta, which is Fire but the MS is Vata and it is “taking over” some of my own characteristics. MS indeed creates an excess of vata in the body, and this weakens the nervous system. Vata excess can also lead to joint pains, dry skin, memory loss, insomnia, grief and fear etc. So many other diseases are vata diseases. But the good news is that each yoga posture can also be described according to its impact of the doshas.
Does it matter what postures we do?
All yogic tools, that is postures, breathing techniques, or hand gestures have an impact on our health. The key for us is to use yogic tools in such a way as to reduce symptoms and increase energy and well being. Postures as well as sequences are thus important.
Do I need to be flexible?
Yoga is for any body in two words. It doesn’t matter where you are at, as long as you practise mindfully, without trying to “reach” a certain posture. Yoga is not about reaching, it is about feeling comfortable, at ease in a posture. Even if there are some postures you cannot do, you can maybe do a modification, with props or practise an alternative posture which would have the similar effect. This is really really important. Each person needs to find what feels right for her.