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April 27, 2015
In regards to MS, as a yoga teacher and an MS patient, I am happy to read that other MS patients are seeking yoga as an assist to healing.
I was Dx about 11 years ago, and began practicing yoga about 10 years ago. I believe that my practice has made it possible for me to avoid many of the physical problems associated with the disease (weakness, spasticity) and has significantly decreased the numbness in my hands and feet.
With that said, the cognitive issues cannot be ignored. A student with MS may need extra processing time to follow verbal directions and may look as if they are struggling to get into a pose when in actuality they are thinking it through! Spatial thinking may become impaired, and word retrieval problems are common. My students and I make jokes about the wrong body part or direction that I inevitably call out. More often than not I'll just take the pose and tell them "do this!". We laugh and move on. Your student with MS is not likley to be as OK and relaxed with their errors in front of strangers as I am. It's important to remember that slowed reaction or slowed speech ds not mean that the person lacks intelligence or spark. It just means that the neurons are not firing as expected that day...next class will be different, better or worse, for sure.
Know that as you introduce a person with MS to yoga, if they take the bait and really go for it, you are giving them a preciaous gift of improved life quality...Thank You!
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