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Sunday, March 8, 2009

Yoga and MS: Part 3

“Good morning sun it’s good to be alive,” intoned Hayward, our yoga guide at Hawaii’s Yoga Oasis. Every day for years he has faced the sun and said this. I found myself repeating these words shortly after my diagnoses. I think I started welcoming the sun once I could stand on my own two feet again. The longer and better I could stand, the greater my joy. I think that once I could balance on one foot again that I knew I was going to be ok.

It was actual light that brought me toward healing from my first exacerbation. I remember that when I first was diagnosed, many people kept telling me about the candles they had lit for me. During the night I wrote about in Part 2, I used those candles as a guide.

I hadn’t slept in days. Days without sleep and large doses of steroids do strange things to people. The night before my healing began, I stayed up almost all night surfing the net and reading strange stories about the Nadja who is my namesake. In my heightened state it was as though we connected across time. When I closed my lap top to sleep, I began to drift off for the first time in a while and then I felt her beside me. My heart raced as for a minute, I thought I beheld her ghost. Then I startled fully awake to find this specter an image of my overactive imagination. That night as I struggled with the pain in my body, she visited again briefly. It was a dark and stormy night (literally) but I banished her from my room and set to healing myself with breathe.

I breathed, moving in circles through my vertigo but when I closed my eyes I felt as though I was tumbling. At this point, I focused on my breath, deepening it through the pain. The breath alone was not enough to stop my tumble so I began to imagine the candle my mother had lit for me at the Notre Dame cathedral. I followed the light of that candle in the dark place behind my eyes and for the first time in a long time, I was not afraid. I breathed and breathed. All the candles people had lit for me surrounded me and I was reassured by the voices of every teacher I ever knew. Perhaps everything that happened that night was the result of sleep deprivation and steroid psychosis, but whatever actually occurred, like Hayward, I came to embrace the sun.

I awoke with the feeling that I had just experienced months of yoga teacher training in one night. I had more clarity than ever before. Things are murkier now but in yoga we take about a “practice”, so I guess these days I do a lot of practicing. I still practice breath, patience, meditation and compassion for myself and when I teach, I try to practice karma yoga (giving). My desire as a teacher is to give some of what I have received, to share the joy and pleasure of yoga and to promote peace within myself and others. I truly receive more than I give but the practice itself brings me light. The light of yoga is what I give thanks for today.


Heather said...


Webster said...

Yours is an excellent example of the power of a yoga practice. Yoga is often misunderstood as being only Hatha Yoga - but as you know, it is so much more.

Keep breathing, keep meditating and be well.

Denver Refashionista said...

Well said Webster and thanks :)

pat said...

OK warrior woman- I have signed up for Yoga! My friends can't believe it!(comments range from warnings, to shock, to disbelief. My lifestyle is not what you would call"healthy"! Now, here is what I want from you;anytime you feel as if you do not make a difference in anyone's life,pull this note up! Here I am on the East coast,formerly an almost recluse, and I am about to embark on a new chapter in my lifebook.(it's even hard for ME to believe)All your writings about Yoga intrigued and interested me. So you see? So often you hear people say"If I have made a difference in one person's life,I'll be happy" well, I am living breathing proof. Thank You Nadja.

Denver Refashionista said...

Thank you Pat. I am excited to have inspired you.


Breath is at the root of so much in life. It is the center of creating music through these strange inanimate objects called instruments.

Breathing is something we must do to stay alive, but it is a skill so often forgotten. I find that with my students it is difficult to tease the breath out of them. It fuels the sound and energy coming from the horn.

But once you learn how to breathe and how to use that breath to bring vibrations to life, then everything becomes possible.